A coroner has recorded an open verdict into the death of Olympic-medal-winning boxer Darren Sutherland, who was found dead in his London flat by his manager in 2009.

As he returned his verdict coroner Roy Palmer said Mr Sutherland was a "charming personable gentleman" who "lit up the room", but may have been "too sensitive and intelligent" to be a boxer.

The 27-year-old, who had turned professional after winning a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics, was found dead at his flat in Bromley in south-east London in September 2009 by his manager Frank Maloney.

Two separate post-mortem investigations confirmed he died as a result of asphyxiation.

Promoter Mr Maloney, most famous for managing Lennox Lewis to the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world, had to be taken to hospital suffering from a heart attack after discovering him.

A four-day inquest into his death heard the young athlete had struggled with the transition from the "supported" world of amateur boxing to the professional world.

He had been suffering from depression and had begun having doubts over his abilities after an injury to his eye.

The wound, which had become infected and would not heal, had left him "traumatised" and afraid to get back in the ring.

The Irish star confided in friends and health professionals that he was in turmoil over whether he wanted to continue in the sport but was scared of what would happen if he turned his back on boxing, the inquest was told.

Today the coroner recorded the cause of death as hanging before recording an open verdict.

Dr Palmer said sufficient doubt in his mind meant he could not return a verdict of suicide.

He added: "A coroner in contemplating such a verdict has to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt, not only that the individual did an act unaided, but also must be sure that he fully intended that it should end his life.

"Here I am persuaded that there is sufficient doubt to make me hesitate to return a verdict of suicide."

He added: "The words I've heard over the last four days are words like happy, always smiling, a gentleman, nice guy, charming, personable, determined, diligent, panicky, a worrier, a closed individual.

"He was anxious. He always tried to do the best and be the best he could.

"He lit up the room. He didn't want to let anybody down.

"Perhaps he was too sensitive and intelligent to be a boxer.

"As we heard he sustained this cut. Many boxers get cuts and they heal up. This clearly distressed him.

"There were clearly lots of reasons why he felt distressed."

Dr Palmer also said he would write to the British Board of Boxing Control to explore whether changes could be made to ease the transition from amateur to professional boxing.

In a statement read out by solicitor James Evans, the Sutherland family called for such changes to be made.

They said: "If anything is to be learned from the tragedy of Darren's death, it should be that the support mechanisms that exist for amateur boxers should also be there for them when they begin their lonely path on the journey to professional life.

"My clients hope that in this Olympic year, and especially being this year held in London, that all young sports men and women who make the transition from amateur to professional status ensure that they surround themselves with those who they can trust and rely on.

"The Sutherland family will do all they can to come to terms with the way and circumstances surrounding Darren's tragic and untimely death. They will hold dear to them the memory of Darren, their beloved son, brother friend and confidant."

The family also paid tribute to their lost loved-one, who they described as an "ambassador of goodwill for Ireland."

During the inquest, Mr Sutherland's management team were criticised after it emerged that notes found by the youngster's body displayed fears over what his manager Frank Maloney would do to him if he broke his contract.

Ismay Bourke, a friend of Mr Sutherland, also told the hearing he was "terrified" of his manager.

But giving evidence earlier today, Mr Maloney said his protégé had no reason to fear him and he had not placed any undue pressure on the athlete to box.