Boxer Caoimhin Hynes lucky to be alive after slash attack in Belfast, says brother
The brother of a rising boxing star has told of his family's heartbreak after he suffered a horror slash to his face in an assault by a gang in Belfast.
Caoimhin Hynes was attacked by a number of people while out with his girlfriend in the early hours of Monday.
The middleweight boxer fights out of Holy Trinity Boxing Club and just recently returned from Paris, where he won gold at the Montana Belts tournament.
The promising fighter is set to compete at the next Commonwealth Games, which his coach has said will not be hampered by the injury.
His brother, Eoghan Junior, told the Belfast Telegraph the family is thankful he is alive as he could have died.
While they want justice, they hope the attack will raise awareness and serve as an example to ensure this does not happen to anyone else. They are also appealing for more police in the city centre at night.
Eoaghan Junior said: "We are heartbroken because we aren't used to seeing our brother or anyone around us in this condition, but I hope justice is served and the police find out who this was.
"People have been killed by this kind of crime."
Caoimhin, who does not drink alcohol, was with his girlfriend at the time of the attack, which happened following an altercation when they went to McDonald's in the city centre after a night out.
Eoaghan Junior said: "He ended up with a huge gash across his cheek. His phone was taken, he was covered in blood and his girlfriend was hit, and now he has to get surgery."
The family said they were extremely emotional as they realised he is "lucky to be alive".
"It (the wound) was close to his neck. It's hard to describe how we feel as he doesn't know how he feels," added Eoghan Junior. "At first, it was really emotional for me, my sister, my mum and the rest of my family that visited Caoimhin.
"I've never experienced that. He's my brother, my best friend, and seeing him like that, when I'm used to seeing him happy and enjoying himself, it's not a nice feeling."
The family have received support from around the world, with Carl Frampton among those sending messages and others booking flights to come and visit.
The family admitted it would be tough when the reality hits Caoimhin that he may have to rest for a while. Eoaghan Junior said: "It hasn't hit him yet. He still thinks he's going to be fighting in a couple of weeks. He wanted to go back to work today. He's trained every day of the week for the past 10 years.
"He's a role model to most people. They know him for his boxing. He can protect himself, but he's not a fighter - he's a gentleman. I want people to realise you can't get away with these types of things.
"It's life or death. We could have woken up without a brother, without a son, without a friend. You can't get away with it. These guys in tracksuits on a night out with a sharp item... it could have killed my brother. There needs to be awareness.
"They need more cameras in the town. There has been fatalities of people losing their lives even in a simple blow to the head, and more needs to be done. If someone gets attacked, you need to know who has done this. There has to be something to prevent things like this happening."
Caoimhin's trainer, Mickey Hawkins, said it was shocking to think that the boxer, who is in the "top two or three at middleweight in the country", was "inches from losing his life".
But he remained optimistic about his future, saying: "He's a good role model for all our younger boxers in the club. He'll bounce back."
Police appealed for anyone with information to ring 101.