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A heartbroken mother faces the awful reality that her youngest son won't be coming back to her

Next month Ricky Hatton will attend a charity night in memory of young Belfast boxer Eamonn Magee jnr. His mum talks to Stephanie Bell

Published 28/10/2015

Poignant memories: Mary Magee in son Eamonn’s bedroom with his boxing medals on the wall
Poignant memories: Mary Magee in son Eamonn’s bedroom with his boxing medals on the wall
Family grief: father Eamonn Snr and his sister Aine carry Eamonn’s coffin at the funeral in west Belfast
Mother’s heartache: Mary Magee with a picture of her son Eamonn
Young boxing star Eamonn Magee with his dad Eamonn Snr
Loving son: the young boxing star Eamonn Magee with his mum
Eamonn Magee Jnr

For a long time Mary Magee could only cope with the shock that her son Eamonn had been killed by convincing herself that he was on holiday and that he would be coming back home to her.

It is only in the last couple of weeks that the heartbroken mother has had to start to face up to the awful reality that her youngest child - a talented boxer and engineering student - who was such a huge part of her life will never be coming home again.

It is the little things she misses - the detailed preparation that went into his special diet when he was gearing up for a fight, her washing machine going non-stop as he showered three times a day, the errands he ran for her to the supermarket or doctors, and most of all his beautiful smile.

But as well as the agony of her own loss, she is finding it hard to accept the senseless waste of the promising life that lay ahead for her 22-year-old son which was cruelly cut short when he was stabbed to death when he opened the door of a friend's house in Twinbrook in May.

Mary (53) says: "I just don't know the sense of it, the purpose of it. He was just such a beautiful wee lad with everything in front of him, and now he will miss so much of life."

A 32-year-old man from Turkey, father-of-three Orhan Koca, has since been charged with murder and has been remanded in custody.

Speaking for the first time about the loss of her talented and popular youngest child, Mary also revealed how in her terrible grief she has sought comfort from mediums in the desperate hope of hearing from her son again.

Mary has also been helped in the last few difficult months by focusing on a special memorial night for her son which is to be held next month in the Devenish Arms in west Belfast where he had trained.

The black tie gala dinner was the idea of former world champion Ricky Hatton who offered to waive his fee to come to Belfast and celebrate Eamonn's life and raise funds to cover the costs of his funeral and for charity.

Eamonn's dad, Eamonn Magee Snr, a former WBU welterweight champion, had fought Ricky Hatton in Manchester in 2002 in what was one of his most high-profile fights of his career. Hatton was knocked down by a right hook from Eamonn in the clash, which Hatton admitted was the making of him as a boxer.

As the boxing world mourned the loss of young Eamonn they have rallied round, along with his friends and family, to ensure his memorial dinner billed as "An Evening with Ricky Hatton in Memory of Eamonn Magee Junior" is a worthy tribute. It clearly means the world to Mary that her son is to be remembered in such a special way by the people who loved him.

She says: "It is wonderful they are doing the memorial night for him and it has given me something to focus on.

"I am getting together a wee DVD of his fights from the age of 11 up which will be shown as a slideshow during the dinner. After the meal there will be a 20-minute tribute to Eamonn and we will play the song See You Again by Wiz Khalifa which we played at his funeral and which has become Eamonn's song.

"Then we have a slideshow of family photos of him growing up.

"It is going to be very sad and very emotional for everybody, but we also want to cheer it up and have fun, too, and there will be a magician and then Ricky Hatton's presentation.

"Red was Eamonn's colour and a lot of people wore red to his funeral. We will have red table runners and people can wear red dickie bows, or any red they want to remember him."

The boxing community was left stunned by the news of the popular young up and coming boxer's sudden and very brutal death.

Friends described the sportsman as a loveable, genuine and decent young man who had the world at his feet and great potential for a successful boxing career. In a moving interview shortly after his murder, his dad Eamonn Snr said that despite his short career as a professional boxer, he had the talent to go all the way.

He said: "When I watched him box, it was like watching myself. From the very start he was a southpaw fighter, just copying his father.

"He had all the same moves, the rolling, the punching, the slipping, the counterpunching.

"He was very good at what he did. He won all the titles in the north and was All-Ireland champion

"He only had a short career in the paid ranks.

"Two wins and he was undefeated. He could have gone all the way, but that's been taken away from him."

He described his son as "the most pleasant, beautiful wee lad you ever did meet" and clearly devastated by his loss he acknowledged that it would be Mary who would feel it most.

Eamonn Snr adds: "He would have done anything for anybody - especially his mother. His mother will miss him the most; she called him her right-hand man.

"From the day and hour he was born, he was a pleasure to be around."

Mary, who has split from Eamonn Snr, had lived alone with Eamonn Jnr as her other two children Francis (25) and Aine (23) have both left home. Because there was just the two of them, she said they shared an especially close bond.

She says the whole family circle is shattered by what happened and remembers well the terrible morning in the early hours of May 30 when the news reached her that her son had been attacked. She says: "Aine was at home and someone rapped our door about 3am and she thought it was Eamonn. She rang his phone, but his wee girlfriend answered and said that Eamonn had just been stabbed and was lifeless.

"I don't even know how I got to the hospital, but I was there on my own when they told me he was dead.

"It is so hard. One day you are up and the next day you are down. He was a wee fella who was so loved, everybody loved him and I just can't get over it. I can't see the sense in it.

"He had so much to live for. He was at university and he was boxing and training twice a day as well as working as a personal trainer. He lived life to the full.

"Everybody knew him and it is just such a shock to everybody.

"He was so likeable and very helpful and so giving. Even in the gym if he wasn't working, he would have helped people and shown them how to use the different machines.

"There was just the two of us at home and my health isn't the best. Eamonn was always taking me to the doctor or going to get my groceries for me.

"He really looked after me. My washing machine never stopped - he was so clean he showered three times a day.

"For a long time I kept telling myself that he is on holiday and he will be coming back and it is only starting to sink in now that he won't be coming back.

"I went to a medium and got the message 'mum I achieved everything I wanted while I was there' and you do get some comfort from that - but in the long run I have to face the fact that going to these people just to hear my son again is not the answer.

"His daddy's in a terrible state too. He trained with his daddy and he knew he had what it took to make it big in boxing. All that has been taken away from him."

Mary says it was typical of her son's big heart that he had planned to take part in the Lisburn Fun Run to raise money for the charity Tinylife just two weeks after his murder.

His mum, dad, brother, sister and other family members were joined by friends, and together a group of around 30 people took part in the fun run in Eamonn's place, raising around £4,000 for the charity.

Eamonn embraced life to the full and his mum said he particularly loved all holiday celebrations, especially Halloween and Christmas.

He had talked about taking his mum away this Christmas. Now Mary has no idea how she will get through it without him.

She says: "He was just a 22-year-old who enjoyed life and he loved Halloween and always dressed up and went out. He loved Christmas, too, and last year he suggested that me and him go away this year - just the two of us.

"We are going away as a family after Christmas and I don't even want to think about how Christmas will be without him.

"At the moment, I am just focusing on his memorial dinner and it is great of Ricky Hatton to offer to come over and do it. And everyone in the Devenish has been great and all of his friends can't do enough.

"We hope money will be raised on the night for Tinylife and I want to keep it as light as I can.

"Eamonn was so popular and so well liked by everybody who knew him. He was so handsome and had the most beautiful smile, such a beautiful wee lad, and he is missed so much."

  • An Evening with Ricky Hatton in memory of Eamonn Magee Junior will be held in the Devenish on November 14, starting with a reception at 6pm followed by dinner at 6.30pm. Tickets are available from the Devenish Arms in west Belfast

Belfast Telegraph

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