Memories of Dazzler

Memories of Dazzler
By Donny Mahoney Updated
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I thoroughly enjoyed Donald McRae's interview with James DeGale in today's Guardian, and particularly DeGale's own memories of his rival Darren Sutherland, who died nearly one year ago. DeGale beat Dazzler in the semifinals in Beijing, although Sutherland had beat him in four previous fights.

"I was here, at home in my bedroom, when my mum told me. I remember I half welled up and said, 'No, it can't be true. It must be a sick joke.' But it was all true. I was saying, 'How? Why?' and I started researching what had happened to him. It makes you sad when you tap the words on to the screen: 'Boxer Hanged Himself.'

"Me and Darren Sutherland went back a long way. He beat me four times. OK, I won the one that really mattered, but he was a very good fighter. We had this healthy rivalry. Before a fight we'd give each other the eye but, afterwards, we always talked. All the Irish boys used to tell me he was the kind of fighter that got up at four in the morning to eat his porridge and go for a run. Boxing was his life. If he didn't box well he'd get upset. He wanted to get to the top – just like me.

"Boxing is a lonely game. It makes you look at yourself and feel all your fears and doubts. You can seem very alone when you're waiting to go into that ring. But I've got a great family, and a fantastic promoter [Warren] and trainer [Jim McDonnell]. I've got this bond with all these people. I can always turn to them if things get hard.

"I heard Darren had a bit of OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder] but that ain't so strange. All boxers are OCD. You can see a bit of OCD in me before I go into the ring. I can't put on my right boot before my left. It's the same with my gloves. It's got to always be the left foot and the left hand first. I would freak out if I did it differently. I have to do the left first because that's the way I done it when I won the Olympics."

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