The Force still strong

My sacrifice was worth it if other boxers benefitted, says Watson

Last updated: 11th February 2011   Subscribe to RSS Feed

What's happened to me is well worth the sacrifice. It's been well worth my pain and heartache and what I've been through.

Michael Watson
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From middleweight talent to the man that took on the Boxing Board of Control, Michael Watson's name will be forever embedded in the history of British boxing.

The Islington man was left clinging on to life back in 1991 after his third bid to become world champion ended in chaotic and catastrophic scenes.

Floored by old foe Chris Eubank in the final round at White Hart Lane, Watson hit his head on the canvas but got up to see the bell. It was then that he collapsed.

Confusion reigned in the ring as crucially - and in keeping with regulations at the time - there were no paramedics on hand.

Watson was finally attended to by doctors in their dinner jackets and an ambulance had to be called to take him to hospital. But by then he had spent a total of 28 vital minutes unconscious and without oxygen - something else that was not available instantly.

The Force, as he was known, spent 40 days in a coma. He needed six operations to remove a blood clot, spent another year in intensive care and another six in a wheelchair, battling to regain the ability to walk and talk.

It was, as he admitted in a special edition of Ringside, the biggest fight of his life. But Watson came through and in 2003 completed the London Marathon, taking six days to complete the 26 miles and crossing the line with Eubank and his neurosurgeon Peter Hamlyn, by his side.

But it was Watson's bold decision to sue the BBBofC that changed the face of British boxing forever. The Board was found guilty of failing to provide sufficient medical provision at a fight and told to pay out £400,000 in damages, which meant selling their London headquarters off.


The lesson though, had already been learned. From then on, paramedics were - and still are - at every British bill, oxygen is on hand and used regularly as a precaution if there is any concern about a fighter's safety.

It is something that saved the lives of Spencer Oliver and Paul Ingle, both who suffered blood clots years later, but have come through, their own rehabilitation's shorter than the years it took Watson to get back to something approaching a normal life.

Ingle and Oliver joined The Force to take us through their stirring stories and both had no hesitation in insisting that while immediate medical attention prevented them dying in the ring, it was Michael Watson that saved their lives.

And that in itself is something that today, still fills him with immense satisfaction. For him the last 19 years, the months in intensive care and every dark day along the way, were all the more worth it. There was not an ounce of bitterness in the 45-year-old as he told his inspirational story in a north London gym.

"Through fate, everything in my life happens for a reason," he said. "That same reason was to help Spencer Oliver to come through the same ordeal, and Paul Ingle through the same thing.

"What's happened to me is well worth the sacrifice. It's been well worth my pain and heartache and what I've been through."

To watch Watson's moving and inspiring interview with Ringside, click on the link above.

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Comments (11)

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Mike J says...

Never realised it was twenty years ago,since Michael,s fight. We watched in horror as Michael hit his head on the canvas,As the weeks past photos in news papers,reporting on his condition.He was always one of our favourite boxers,We are so glad to see him in this sports item,Good luck Michael, We will watch Michael,s interview soon.

Posted 11:27 12th February 2011

Chris Cotterell says...

greatest episode of ringside ever, what remarkable men.

Posted 21:54 11th February 2011

Glen Ferguson says...

Michael Watson should have won the World Championship and would have been one of the best boxers of his time, however he has shown that he is more than a World Champion in his achievements, more current boxers should be looking at the example he has set.

Posted 21:14 11th February 2011

Lenny Gregory says...

Michael, good to see you looking so well. Lenny Gregory from Colvestone Gym, Dalston.

Posted 20:04 11th February 2011

Donna Gittings says...

what a gentleman michael watson is i remember watchin the fight live on tv and remember crying thinking he would not make it through the night let alone the nxt 20 yrs,a true inspiration to anyone who sustains any type of injury let alone a brain injury.we as a nation were very lucky to have him as our champion,he,s not bitter,angry,or full of was a pleasure to watch him chatting about his expierience.

Posted 19:10 11th February 2011

Stewart Hodgins says...

Excellent episode guys. Quality interviews. Michael, Paul and Spencer i salute you all. True Champions in every way.

Posted 17:18 11th February 2011

Matthew Hunter says...

What a story! What a fighter! What an inspirationa!

Posted 14:49 11th February 2011

Charles Barrett says...

Well done guys, the new format for Ringside is really good. This weeks programe looking at Micheal Watson, Paul Ingle and Spencer Oliver was very intresting and uplifting, three fighters with three very diffrent storys linked togather by their ring accidents. All three of them given the chance woud fight again tomorrow,this is a statement that only another fighter can truly understand, boxers are a special breed, they know and except the risks that go with their chosen trade, they don't ask for our simpthy or pity. Warriors they were, warriors they remain. Micheal Watson Paul Ingle Spencer Oliver Harry Senior and every other Boxer that has suffered in the same way, the boxing world salute's you

Posted 22:41 10th February 2011

Duncan Robb says...

Respect to Michael and others. I watched all of Michael's fights and what an excellent boxer and a brave, brave man to come back as he has. Courage doesnt go far enough to describe it.

Posted 13:26 10th February 2011

Dan Bentley says...

sounds brillaint. ringside is a great programme,hope it runs for many years. i hope one day boxers can get a union,and especially be looked after once they retire.

Posted 03:17 10th February 2011

Mark Mcb says...

really enjoying the themed Ringside's at the moment! Great Show! At last a show on the box which is 100% boxing

Posted 18:52 9th February 2011

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