Slash attack Belfast boxer Caoimhin Hynes vows to be back on his feet 'in no time'
A rising boxing star who is "lucky to be alive" has thanked the public for their support after he suffered a horror slash to his face in an assault by a gang in Belfast - and said he'll be "back on my feet in no time".
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.
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.
The boxer had surgery on Monday afternoon and has said he hopes to be discharged from hospital on Wednesday.
Posting on Facebook he expressed his appreciation for every message he and his family had received and added that he'll be "back on my feet in no time".
He said: "I am blessed. Very lucky guy to still be alive, any lower (the wound) and things could have been a lot different. what a long day this has been, very lucky too have unreal friends, family and definitely girlfriend.
"I'll be back on my feet in no time and back to the same old Caoimhin thanks again everyone."
Messages of support have been pouring in from across the world.
Among them was Belfast champion Carl Frampton. He said: "Disgraceful and disgusting. Hope he'll be back to doing what he does best soon."
Former heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury also sent his best wishes. He tweeted: "Big shoutout. Get well soon pal and may God bless you."
While Caoimhin's family 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."
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."
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.