Boxer Caoimhin Hynes describes moment he was stabbed in the face
A YOUNG boxer has described the horrific moment he was stabbed in the face during a night out in Belfast city centre.
Caoimhin Hynes received 14 stitches and underwent further surgery following the serious assault in the early hours of Monday on Donegall Place.
Mobile phone footage posted online appears to show how a mass brawl escalated along the city's main shopping precinct.
The 20-year-old, who is considered a rising star of amateur boxing, said he feels "very lucky" to have survived the attack.
Speaking from hospital, he told The Irish News: "After the surgery when I had a bit of time to myself, it hit me how serious it was.
"I'm obviously very lucky to only have a slice down my face and it wasn't my throat."
The west Belfast boxer described how he was queueing outside McDonald's with his girlfriend to buy food when the assault happened.
"It was the end of the night. I went to get food with my girlfriend and someone threw something at us. There was a cup thrown with ice and drink in it," he said.
"I went to see who it was and things just kicked off. There was a bit of arguing going on and I was trying to find out who it was.
"I'm not really too sure after that. I was hit from the side, and that put me down and I hit my head. I got up and felt a wee bit dizzy."
He added: "I wasn't drinking and I wasn't on drugs – I wasn't on anything."
Mr Hynes told how his girlfriend first noticed the extent of his injuries before he was taken to hospital.
"Whenever the whole situation had been going on my girlfriend was trying to pull me away," he said.
"She said, 'My God, what happened to your face?' She pulled me closer so I couldn't see the blood.
"She said, 'Caoimhin, your face is in a bad way.' I looked down and saw the blood all over her."
Mr Hynes was attacked by a group of men wearing tracksuits.
Police have appealed for witnesses. They said they received a report of an ongoing altercation involving a number of people shortly before 2.50am.
Mr Hynes trains with Holy Trinity boxing club and just recently returned from Paris where he won gold at the Montana Belts tournament.
The middleweight fighter, who hopes to compete at the next Commonwealth Games, thanked people for the many messages of support he has received.
"It's unbelievable that so many people have been asking about me," the 20-year-old said.
He hopes to be leaving hospital later today, and insisted: "I'll be back on my feet in no time and back to the same old Caoimhin."
PSNI detective inspector Paul Rowland urged anyone with information to contact officers at Musgrave police station on 101 quoting reference 165 of 01/05/17, or phone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.