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Irish Olympic boxer pleads guilty to sexually assaulting woman in Ballymena pub

It’s possible the boxer could be sent to prison.

Steven Donnelly after defeating Kevin McCauley during their super welterweight bout at Windsor Park in Belfast. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Steven Donnelly in 2016. Boxing Test Match, National Boxing Stadium, Dublin. Picture credit: David Fitzgerald / SPORTSFILE

Steven Donnelly during fight at The Ulster Hall. Picture Mark Marlow

Steven MooreSunday World

Controversial Olympic boxer Steven Donnelly’s fight career could be permanently KO’d after it emerged he sexually assaulted a woman.

We can reveal the 34-year-old has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a girl in a pub in Ballymena, Co Antrim, in October 2021.

The Ballymena boxer admitted the offence in October rather than go to contest and we can reveal he’s due to be sentenced on Thursday at Ballymena Magistrates Court.

It’s possible the boxer could be sent to prison.

According to court papers, “on the 9th day of October 2021 Donnelly intentionally touched (name removed), the circumstances being that the touching was sexual, that she did not consent to the touching and you did not reasonably believe that she so consented”.

Donnelly, who is a double Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, also pleaded guilty to disorderly behaviour at the Fairhill Bar in Ballymena on the same date.

He had been facing two counts of sexual assault and a further charge of common assault against the same woman, but the PPS accepted a guilty plea to one count of sexual assault and disorderly behaviour.

The judge requested pre-sentence reports, and more details of the offences he committed will be laid out in court this week.

Steven Donnelly in 2016. Boxing Test Match, National Boxing Stadium, Dublin. Picture credit: David Fitzgerald / SPORTSFILE

Donnelly frequently courts controversy and in April this year he posted an image of himself on Snapchat with the banner headline ‘Up the Ra ya bastards’ across it. He’s since deleted the post.

The Irish Olympian had turned professional and had been fighting with MTK Global – founded by cartel chief Daniel Kinahan – and had won all of his nine fights.

In April, MTK ceased operating following the US government’s sanctions on the Irish Mafia boss, including the issuing of a $5 million reward for the capture of Daniel Kinahan and the warning to other companies not to deal with them or their fighters.

With MTK folding, the Covid pandemic and a seemingly inbuilt self-destruct mode involving a struggle with alcohol, Donnelly’s career as a fighter is almost certainly over.

Already in 2022 Donnelly, who fought in the Rio Olympics in 2016, has been involved in a number of embarrassing incidents which followed a nasty online attack on a fellow Irish boxer.

In 2021 Donnelly admitted he needed “proper help” and has been in a “bad place” for a “long time” after posting the comment.

Donnelly had been tweeting light-middleweight boxer Caoimhin Agyarko, apparently goading his rival.

During the tit-for-tat Twitter row, Agyarko asked if Donnelly was a “retired alcoholic”. Donnelly hit back, referring to Agyarko as a “black wee c**t”.

He then tweeted: “Hehe I’ll fight you any day of the week you wee scumbag, if only you got stabbed in the right place;)” Donnelly was apparently referring to an incident in 2017 when Agyarko was stabbed in the face in Belfast.

Agyarko, who is currently the WBA International light middleweight champion, spoke months later to say the comment about the stabbing was more hurtful than the outrageous racial slur.

Agyarko said he would never fight Donnelly due to the comments, adding: “We decided he would never get the fight with me.

“I don’t wanna give him a pay day, he called me a black c***, I’m mixed race but if you want to call me black, I’m black.

Steven Donnelly during fight at The Ulster Hall. Picture Mark Marlow

“If someone wants to shed hate on my colour go ahead, you’re probably doing sunbeds trying to get a tan.”

Donnelly later deleted the tweets and apologised on the platform, writing: “Listen, no excuse for the nonsense I said. I need proper help and I’ve been in a bad place for a long time.

"Don’t know how long I’ve left but it won’t be too long. Sorry.”

In April this year he was involved in a incident on a Belfast street with fellow Olympic boxer and Commonwealth medallist Paddy Barnes and Caoimhin Agyarko, the boxer he racially abused online a year before.

Donnelly gave interviews at the time of that incident and claimed he had been the victim but sources have told the Sunday Worldthat Donnelly had been “out of order” inside the pub before the incident.

A police spokesperson said about the April street brawl: “Police inquiries have been completed and a file has been sent to the Public Prosecution Service.”

He’s notorious for posting controversial things on social media including Facebook and Instagram before deleting the posts.

In the same month Donnelly took to social media in the lead-up to Katie Taylor’s massive World Championship fight in New York against Amanda Serrano.

Donnelly was criticised by fellow boxing pals after he not only took bets of up to £500 that Taylor would be beaten but he also described the Dublin hero in a derogatory fashion as “a handicapped”.

Taylor won the fight, Donnelly was called out to pay up his betting debts, and he later deleted the anti-Taylor post and recently removed his Facebook account completely.

Donnelly represented Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010 but was hammered in his first-round fight 10-0.

Following his humiliating defeat he was subsequently sent home from the Games by team management after drinking alcohol and causing a disturbance in the athlete’s village.

After this he became disillusioned with the sport and quit boxing for two years before eventually returning to the All Saints Boxing Club in Ballymena.

However, following his racist insult on Caoimhin Agyarko it’s understood the boxing club distanced itself from him and even removed an Olympic banner of Donnelly from their gym.

He returned to boxing where he won bronze medals at both the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 at welterweight and the Gold Coast in 2018 at middleweight.


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