Family's tribute to 'fearless champ' Eric (15) at funeral
A TEEN boxer who drowned after a freak horse-riding accident was hailed by his heartbroken sister as "a fearless champ" to his family.
The tribute came as more than 500 mourners packed St Joseph's Church in Mayfield, Cork, for the funeral of Eric Stanton (15).
The funeral cortege was led by a horse and trap past Eric's Avonmore Park home in tribute to his lifelong love of horses.
Eric drowned after being catapulted into a flooded Glanmire river last Saturday evening after the horse he was riding took fright and bolted.
Despite his friend Reuben Stillwell (15) immediately raising the alarm, it was more than 30 minutes before Eric was located and recovered from the swollen Glashaboy River.
He was pronounced dead early last Sunday in Cork University Hospital (CUH).
Eric's sister, Amy, paid an emotional tribute to her "adventure loving bro' with the infectious smile".
The Requiem Mass was attended by the Bishop of Cork Dr John Buckley. The offertory gifts reflected the loves of Eric's life - woodwork, metalwork, his family, his community, sport and horses. Amy read out a series of moving tributes to Eric from his parents, Jimmy and Catherine, and his six siblings.
"Eric always had a huge smile on his face and he absolutely loved life. We are all heartbroken that we will never see his happy smile again," Amy said.
She said that Eric, who was due to sit his Leaving Cert next year, would always be "a fearless champ" to his proud family.
"We will miss you so much. He loved life, especially boxing and horses. He was a very committed boy which was quite unusual. He had a huge commitment to his boxing and he was very dedicated about it.
"He was an amazing boy and had so much going for him. He was kind, funny and very generous. He was also very loyal to his friends and family.
"We just cannot imagine life without him."
The mourners were told that Eric was very proud of his appearance and took exceptional care with his hair and clothing: "With his favourite aftershave, Joop, you could often smell him before you could see him."
She said his sisters often joked about his new hairstyles.
Mayfield Boxing Club provided a special guard of honour for the youth who had been training to take part in the Cork championships this weekend.
Tributes were also paid by Mayfield Community School and St John's NS. Eric's boxing coaches, Danny Fitzpatrick and Brian Cronin, met with him and other boxers last Friday to prepare for the championship.
"Eric would have gone far. He was tough and dedicated and had a great heart. That is what makes a great boxer," Mr Fitzpatrick said.
"I saw him on Friday night when he and the other lads who are boxing in the Cork county finals next week met in my house. We talked tactics and the lads weighed in.
"Eric was 1.4 kilos over the weight and he was out training straight away to get it down.
"He was at peak fitness level because of his training and he did not smoke or drink."
A framed photo adorned his coffin.