THE NEWS of the untimely death of one of Derry’s former professional boxers, Sean Casey, has been greeted with profound sadness by the North-West boxing fraternity and, indeed, fight fans throughout Ireland.
A former amateur European bronze medallist and two-time Irish Senior flyweight champion passed away suddenly on Sunday last, October 9th, at the age of 46 years.
And he was laid to rest following Requiem Mass in the Assumption Church, Thornhill, yesterday morning.
Having commenced his boxing career at the age of 14 years during the late 1970s with Pennyburn Amateur Boxing Club, coached by the legendary Paddy Kelly and his father Jimmy “Spider” Kelly, Sean had gained great respect within the amateur sport for his achievements locally, nationally and internationally.
Formerly of Ballynagard Crescent, Culmore Road, Sean was a well known and highly respected member of the community having worked as a security man and drove for a local taxi firm.
But it was his undoubted talent in the ring for which he will be particularly remembered.
The accomplished flyweight exhibited great dedication, commitment and courage in his favourite sport, a career which culminated in him winning the Irish Senior Flyweight Championship twice in the mid-1980s while also securing international recognition when representing his country with distinction.
After winning his first Irish Senior title, Sean was then selected to represent Ireland at the prestigiious 1985 European Senior Amateur Boxing Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Having performed particularly well in those high profile championships, the Derry man emerged the only member of that the Irish team to win a medal, when taking home a bronze.
In fact, by all accounts he was very unfortunate not to have had the opportunity to box for the gold medal, missing out following a very narrow decision to Dieter Berg of East Germany at the semi-final stage.
But his achievements were considered even more remarkable given that the current Irish “High Performance” set-up was not in operation at that time and, therefore, he had to self-fund his training regime.
Having eventually opted to try his luck in the professional ranks, Sean travelled throughout Europe, including trips to Denmark, Italy and Germany to share the ring with distinguished opponents such as Billy Schwer, Richie Wenton, John Lowey, Pat Clinton, Eyup Cann and Luigi Camputaro.
Sean had 19 professional bouts in total, many of which were “Nobbins” bouts, where his courage, skill, and fitness was clearly evident.
His love of boxing remained with him and, on occasions, he would make himself available to coach local youngsters who had been introduced to the sport.
News of his untimely death last week will certainly evoke great sadness among his many friends and former boxing colleagues.
Sean is survived by his loving wife Sharon, and children, Jeanmarie, Stephanie, Sean Jr, and Jonathan.
The profound sympathy of the Derry and North-West boxing fraternity is extended to the Casey family circle at this sad time.
May he rest in peace.