It took him 6 days to complete the London Marathon.
This was after the medical experts had told him that he may never walk again.
This was because he had nearly died in 1991 in a battle for the WBO super middleweight title.
His suing of the British Boxing Board of Control led to him receiving enough compensation that means he has a permanent carer and that every boxer who enters the ring has permanent cover from the medical fraternity.
He’s a hero and in 2012 he became an Olympic torch bearer.
Last week both he and his career, Lennard Ballack, were dragged from their car in an acid attack which left him startled and shocked. In a carjacking, he came close to losing his life; again.
Michael Watson MBE, the former Commonwealth middleweight champion from 1989 to 1991, who nearly lost his life in the 1991 world title fight against Chris Eubank, SR. was mugged and left after two men dragged him along the road as one of them tried to drive off in his car. Watson described the incident in London, as “a very frightening, violent situation which came out of the blue”.
A boxer from the age of 14, Watson often gets forgotten as one of the major boxing figures of the 1990’s when he was in the mix with Steve Collins, Chris Eubank, SR. and Nigel Benn. They are massive fighters of their time and would have been of any time. Watson was their equal. He beat Benn for the Commonwealth crown in 1989 before he fought the first time for world honors in 1990 against Mike McCallum; he lost in the 11th round. He also lost against Chris Eubank, SR. in June 1991 thanks to a majority decision that MANY questioned.
It led to the rematch that had Watson ahead in the 11th, and Eubank, SR. on the canvas before Eubank, SR. landed with an uppercut that saw Watson fall and hit his head against the ropes. In the 12th the fight was stopped, Watson collapsed, doctors in dinner jackets attended to Watson, for 8 minutes Michael Watson had no oxygen administered, 20 minutes later he was receiving treatment in hospital before 40 days were spent in a coma and he underwent 5 brain operations.
Rehab was a year in intensive care, 6 years in a wheelchair, learning to write and walk again and he clawing himself back to the point where he could contemplate that London Marathon.
Because of his experiences and the successful suing of the Board of Control, the likes of Nick Blackwell survived. Watson proved that the British Boxing Board of Control was responsible for medical provision at a fight and that administering oxygen and resuscitation on site would have made a considerable difference to his outcome.
Hi neuro surgeon, Paul Hamlyn, was as affected and influenced by the events as Watson. Hamlyn had operated on other boxer’s brains; Watson’s was worse than any he had encountered. He had been trained by the surgeon for Formula One, Sid Watkins, and was struck by how different healthcare was for that elite sport as opposed to the one where people got hit on the head. His view changed and he watched, not from the side lines but up close and personal as Watson changed the future medical provision and care of boxers forever; both Hamlyn and Chris Eubank, SR. have become firm personal friends of Watson’s
What went through the minds of those two men who attacked Michael Watson and his career can be speculated upon just now but you have to wonder at how stupid they must be. Michael Watson is the epitome of British boxing and the number of world title holders and British boxers who have publicly come out to decry the events that have visited this heroic man to whom all boxers must be grateful has been as welcome as it has been predictable. The relationship between boxing and the underworld is well noted elsewhere; you have to wonder if right now there are not a few “unofficial” detectives doing the shoe leather in, in a hunt for a specific form of justice; one things is for sure, Michael Watson shall emerge from this victorious as he has shown what a true life champion he is and we all wish him very well in his recovery.Contact the Feature Writers