posted on Apr, 25 2003 @ 03:47 PM
For Some who havn't heard of MICHEAL WATSON.......
If I was to ask you who the most important figure in British boxing has been over the last 100 years, how would you reply?
Bob Fitsimmons? Jimmy Wilde? Ted 'Kid' Lewis? Henry Cooper? Frank Bruno? Naseem Hamed? Frank Warren? Lennox Lewis?
All have done much to raise the profile of pugilism in this country, but the achievements of all of the above are dwarfed by that of Michael Watson.
As a boxer, Watson was world class.
Decorated amateur, British and Commonwealth middleweight champion, the first man to beat a peak Nigel Benn.
'The Force' was something special.
But as a fighter, he is something else.
Watson began fighting for real on that fateful night in September 1991, when he was stopped in the final round by Chris Eubank in one of the most
brutal (and compelling) bouts ever seen in this country.
Watson was in a coma for 40 days and nights after the fight, as family, friends and fans and alike feared the worst.
But they, like the surgeons, had not reckoned upon Watson's unbreakable, almost incomprehensible spirit.
Watson did come round (a feat in itself), but was left severely brain damaged.
That should have been that.
But far from being the end of the Watson story, it was merely the end of the beginning.
With the help of his mother (who has remained his beacon throughout) and an unyielding faith in God, 'The Force' began to stir.
They said he would never utter word again.
They said he certainly wouldn't walk again.
So when Watson announced last year that he was running the London Marathon, people were forced to take it as seriously as opponents used to take his
What elso could they do?
The man was a walking, talking miracle.
Confounding Britain's top medical experts as he went, Watson, who still suffers from severe dizzy spells and has the full use of just one leg, began a
gruelling training campaign to get in shape for the big race.
He would compete, officially, for the Brain and Spine Foundation.
Negotiating the 26 mile route through the streets of London by using, what he affectionately calls, his version of the "Ali shuffle".
But it was not really about sport, or indeed charity(although he has, at last count, raised a staggering six figure sum for his endeavours).
Michael Watson was competing for the same reasons he had competed as a young amateur in headguard and vest all those years ago in Islington.
For the same reasons he mixed it with Benn, Eubank and Mike McCallum as a pro.
Beacause he was a fighter.
His mother, a deeply religious and spiritual woman, had never been comfortable with Watson fighting.
But, as with the tragic yet equally noble Johhny Owen (who died in a Los Angeles ring in 1980 after a bout with Mexican Lupe Pintor and whose mother
also was ill at ease about 'her Johnny' fighting), it was his destiny.
For I truly believe, despite all the 'umming' and 'ahhing' of the anti-boxing brigade, such men are born and not made.
As he lay stricken in his bed all those years ago, Watson would not have known it.
But his legacy as the most important figure in British boxing was already being written.
For almost immediately following the tragic fight at White Hart Lane, British boxing's antiquated safety regulations were improved in the grand
Paramedics and anaesthetists are now obliged to sit at ringside, the hangers on and ner-do-wells must now (officially anyway) stay out of the ring
upon conclusion of a bout, and the nearest hospital neurology unit is now alerted every time there is a show taking place.
All licensed professionals in Britain must now undertake yearly MRI scan to check for abnormalities.
That was just the start.
In 2001 Watson won "substantial" damages from the British Boxing Board of Control after a truly landmark case, proving that the BBBC had failed to
provide adequate medical facilities at White Hart Lane.
Another round to 'The Force'.
Quite what he does next is anyone's guess.
I would put nothing past him.
As far as I am concerned though, it would be an absolute outrage if Michael is not honoured officially for his efforts.
For me, there is no more deserving candidate in the country for an MBE, OBE (or whatever it is they are) than the miracle man from Islington.
What more does he have to do?
Then again, what honour do you give to a man who has come through such adversity?
Whatever letters he does or does not eventually receive after his name, I, like millions of others, will always know him first and foremost as Micheal