I have been inspired by my literary sparring partner, Damien Trainor and his recent blog on the same subject, and thought I would share my story.
The first time I got stitched without anaesthetic was in Thailand in 2004.
This was my first 3-month stay at Jitti Gym, where I lived and fought as a professional fighter, training twice a day. Coming up to the end of my 3-month stay I was offered the opportunity to fight for the 61kg WMC World Title.
I had to weigh-in at 7am at Lumpinee Stadium on the morning of the fight. On my first visit to the scales I was 62.7kgs. I went out behind the stadium, dressed in my sweatsuit, and ran around the car-park with the rest of the fighters making weight. After 1hr I came back and had only dropped to 61.8kgs. Jitti had organised the sauna at the stadium to be fired up and went in after this 2nd visit to the scales.
In the next 40-mins I was able to drop down 60.85kgs. To achieve this I was doing knees up against the wall, jogging on the spot and massage in the ridiculous heat of a sauna….in Thailand. When I came out, the 25-degree morning-heat felt cool!!!!
As soon as I made weight I must have drunk about 7-litres of water in the food-court at the back of the stadium. Jitti then sorted out the most amazing chicken soup which, even to this day I cannot explain in words….. People that have had to cut weight before will have an idea of how good that first meal tastes. Chicken soup then became one of my regular post weigh-in meals
The fight was at 3pm at Nam Wong Wan Mall, only a short 10-min taxi drive from the gym, and this was the featured show for CH5 that day. I got told that the guy was a good clincher but all the guys at the gym said that I would win as I had better boxing.
In the build up to the fight I was getting owned in clinch work and one of the few times I have actually “hit the wall”. I have blogged about this already, how I clinched against 5 guys at the same time.
The fight was matched for Dec 23rd 2004 and was a couple of days before the tsunami hit Phuket.
I came out in the first round and started picking him off at long range, working behind teep, low kick and a stinging jab. In the second round I started to open up more with my boxing and wobbled him a few times. On one exchange I delivered a left hook, straight right and as he fell back against the ropes and lifted his hands high, I automatically threw a body kick, and I saw his eyes light up. It was like it was happening in slow motion. He went on to catch my kick, smile, step back, dragged me forwards and pulled me on to one of the sharpest elbows I have ever taken, ripping my forehead open. Blood was immediately gushing 5/6 inches out of the front of my head and the fight got stopped.
I was taken out of the ring and stitched by the doctor in the changing rooms. My mate, Stevie Raine was there and he was kind enough to take off my anklet and stick it in my mouth to chew down on. I ended up having 16 stitches with no anaesthetic at 5pm.
When I got back to the gym I had to trim the stitches back as the tails of thread that were left trailing all over my forehead. I even had to clean the dried blood off my forehead. I finished packing my bags and I was on the plane home at 9pm the same night.
As I was walking through the airport I got recognised by a load of the staff who had seen the fight on TV and I even got given a lift on one of the little electric “golf-carts” by one of the baggage handler guys which was quite a novelty!
I must say that this is the worst I have felt after a fight, as the swelling was coming out on the plane, add that to a change in air-pressure, DVT injuries, dehydration and tiredness, I must have looked terrible.
I think some of the air-hostesses were a little concerned as they kept on coming over to see that I was ok…..and given that the stitches were fresh, I think they could see I was in a bad way.
In Thailand, this was almost an accepted “look”, and this could easily be explained with a “Muay Thai” and a point towards the stitches, and a little chuckle. However, in the Middle East (my stop over) and Manchester, I was getting some pretty weird looks from other travellers.
When I got home I tried to have the stitches taken out after 1 week, and the cut was still open so only had the top two and bottom two stitches taken out as it was starting to open up again. The doctor had overlapped the wound, rather than stitching together, so has left quite a mark that is still there today. It took 2 weeks to get all the stitches out, and the second time I went to the doctors the nurses called all the other nurses in, as they hadn’t seen stitches like that for over 20 years!!!!!