Michael Watson (England)

“Getting angry won't correct the past.”

Photography by Brian Moody

In 1991, boxer Michael Watson collapsed at the end of his World Championship super-middleweight fight with Chris Eubank. He was in a coma for 40 days, and a blood clot in his brain left him partially paralysed. In 2003 he completed the London Marathon, six days after he set out. On the final leg he was accompanied by Chris Eubank. He has written a book about his experience: Michael Watson’s Story: The Biggest Fight

Before the accident I was not a committed Christian. I believed but I was too busy, rushing this way and that, with no time to reflect. Yet I was a loveable person in society and I was doing well. My ultimate goal was to be World Champion.

After the accident it took me a long time to face up to reality. One minute I was a top celebrity, in the ring going for the ultimate prize. The next minute, blank… I woke up in a hospital ward with strange people all around me. I was totally confused and terribly frustrated.

Before my accident, even though I believed in God I didn’t go to Church because it didn’t suit my image. I was too wrapped up in the pleasures of the world – fast cars, expensive clothes, girls. But from the moment I regained consciousness in hospital I took refuge in God.

I prayed for strength, and I prayed for Chris Eubank. I knew he was suffering. If you’ve got a heart – and he has – you can never be the same after something like this happens. I didn’t feel any anger toward him because it could have happened either way. You have to let bygones be bygones. Getting angry won’t correct the past. Instead, I knew I had to concentrate on the future and look to starting a new life. If I had animosity about what Chris had done to me, I’d be breaking myself down mentally as well as physically. How could I then move on?

Instead I became closer to God and found inner peace and strength. I needed to be still for a time. Now I feel brand new. I love the way I am because I’ve got a lot of love in my heart. I feel even better than I did before.

Of course, there are also times when I feel discouraged and depressed, but then friends come round and make me laugh and put joy back into my heart. I couldn’t have got this far without my friends and my family.

Certainly I believe in the concept of forgiveness. It is always better to give than to receive. I’d like to think I’d feel the same if my injuries were the result of a vicious attack. Jesus is my inspiration. Christian or not, how can you fail to be moved by the words of Jesus on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.