On 26th March 2016 Nick Blackwell entered the professional boxing ring for the last time.
“I was a professional boxer, I was The British Middleweight Champion, Youngest English Champion and WBC World Youth Title Champion. I had 24 Professional Fights, 19 Wins and 8 KO.
From the age of 14, I wanted to be a boxer.
“I turned professional in 2009 I have Boxed all over the Country and Europe from York Hall, 02 Arena London, SSE Arena, Monte Carlo, Marbella, Malta, Bristol Birmingham and many more.”
Nick sustained two serious brain injuries in the boxing ring, both of which resulted in him being put into induced comas. The second – and life threatening - brain injury caused such extensive damage; it changed Nick’s whole life.
“It was my biggest fight to date to try and defend my British Middleweight Title for the 3rd Time to Chris Eubank Jr. I had the best Corner that night with the likes of Tyson Fury, and Billy Joe Saunders walking out behind me, and I had Liam Williams and Gary Lockett in my Corner.
“The fight with Chris Eubank Jr was stopped in the 10th Round after swelling on my left eye. I collapsed and was put into an induced coma and taken to hospital for a few weeks.
“After this brain injury, I had to retire from boxing. I struggled hugely being told I couldn’t box again. I feel there isn’t much support out there for Boxers who have had to retire following a brain injury.
Boxing was my whole life and all I had known since a young boy in the playground. The experience was heart-wrenching.
Despite his injuries, Nick felt like he had recovered 100%.
“I felt like the old Nick again, I recognised everyone and felt like I was back to my old self, doing normal everyday things.”
My love for Boxing was too strong, and because I felt and looked 100%, I wrongly went sparring again and collapsed for a second time in the ring.
This time things were life-threatening It was touch and go if Nick would survive his injuries.
“I had pneumonia three times and I had a 75% chance of dying. I died in the ambulance, and they brought me back.”
Nick had another severe bleed on the brain (haematoma) and midline shift.
“I was in a coma - for a longer period this time. The doctors had to cut a section of my skull to relieve the swelling and place it in my stomach to keep it alive. I lost all feeling and vision down my left side; I was looking through people - I didn’t recognise anyone.
“Things weren’t looking good. if I hadn’t been a fit athlete I wouldn’t have pulled through, but I am a fighter and I never gave up. I gained over three stone, and I had to learn to walk, talk and eat again.”
Nick was in rehabilitation for nearly a year. Following this he went to live with his dad, who, along with a close friend, provided the full-time support that Nick now needed.
Four years ago, Nick met his partner, Lisa, and her little boy.
“I live a family life now and Lisa helps me full-time daily. She drives me everywhere and keeps me involved with my professional boxing friends all around the country, which helps my mental health.
“I need help every day from my partner; I rely on her so much. She also has a little boy who suffered a bleed on the brain at one day old, so she has both of us to look after.
“Everything has had to change, I can no longer do boxing, can’t drive a car anymore, I need help with cooking and day-to-day life. I get disorientated and confused and get lost easily so I can’t go anywhere on my own. I need help managing money, social media, and meetings.
“I get tired easily and most days need an afternoon nap, as I suppose my brain must work harder than others and it can be so tiring.
“My weaker, left side still needs physio, and it seems to be getting worse as I get older. I have no movement in my left foot or toes anymore, I have vision problems on my left side, and I suffer from memory loss.
“I get frustrated that I can’t do all the things I used to do, which can be very frustrating for me and makes me cross sometimes.
“I am trying to use my social media platforms to raise awareness for brain injury survivors, people in recovery, and mental health. I try and do daily posts and videos with my partner’s help to show people the real me, how frustrating some days can be and to try and inspire others to keep going.
I don’t want to hide away anymore and be embarrassed or ashamed of the new person I am, I want people to see the NEW Nick and to help others that might be struggling.
“Even simple things, like my social media videos to raise awareness, take me 30 attempts to do just a one-minute video due to the brain blocks that I get, which people often see on my videos.
“I would say keep going and never give up, it is really hard I know, and some days will be harder than others, but you got this and if I can do it so can you. Take each day and remember brighter days are ahead. Don’t hide away, you may not be the old you but you’re a NEW YOU now, keep pushing yourself - it will get easier.
“Try and get out and do some walking as it really helps your mental health or speak to the Headway Helpline if you’re struggling as they have an amazing support team in place. I like the ‘Supporting you’ sections on the Headway website, and I applied for the Brain Injury Identity card, which I have and keep in my wallet for emergencies.
“As long as there are more positives than negatives, you’re winning. You’re going to have good days and bad days; with me, it depends on how I sleep.
"So please - anyone out there - follow my journey if you’re on social media and let’s support each other.
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