A brave Sheffield boxer who almost died in the ring today spoke of his fight for life and confessed: “I felt so useless, I began to think about suicide.”
One year on from his brush with death, Jerome Wilson has told how a single punch wrecked his dreams of an ‘extraordinary life’.
The 30-year-old former professional, of Arbourthorne, almost died after being knocked out by opponent Serge Ambomo and spent months recovering.
“I felt so useless and lifeless and my twisted moods darkened, I began to think about suicide,” the dad of two admits. “I was doing so little to contribute to the family. Maybe they’d be better off without me?”
Slumped on the canvas of a Sheffield boxing ring, with his frantic partner and three-year-old daughter looking on in horror, Jerome Wilson’s boxing bout had turned into the fight of his life.
Floored by one horror punch, Jerome lay motionless as his opponent Serge Ambomo kissed his head then took to the ropes and made a throat cutting gesture as he showboated around the ring celebrating his knock-out.
Little did the Cameroonian boxer know that Jerome, now aged 30, was on the brink of death after suffering a bleed on the brain in the fight at iceSheffield.
An emergency operation to relieve the pressure in his head led to Jerome losing one quarter of his skull as surgeons fought to give him the best chance of survival.
He lay in a coma for 10 days, with family and friends keeping a bedside vigil willing him to pull through.
Now, one year after the fight which almost killed him, Jerome, who grew up in Batemoor and now lives in Arbourthorne, admitted for the first time that at his lowest ebb he contemplated suicide as he struggled to come to terms with the loss of his career and his fitness.
Having to take epilepsy prevention pills, suffering with memory loss and fearing for his livelihood with a partner and children to support, Jerome said he felt his future looked bleak.
“I felt so useless and lifeless and my twisted moods darkened, I began to think about suicide,” he admits in his book, titled ‘Wiped Out?’
“I began boxing as a teenager aiming for glory, but there’s no glory in sitting indoors all day with a quarter of your head missing.
“I was doing so little to contribute to the family. Maybe they’d be better off without me?
“It would be easy, I thought. I’m on so much medication anyway. One night, when the house is quiet I could just take the lot, knock the pills back with a shot of rum. I would be free. They would all benefit financially – they could claim on the life insurance. At least I could provide them that.”
But Jerome, a father-of-two, with three stepchildren, said he fought against the feelings and is now looking forward to rebuilding his life.
“I battled those feelings in a private war. I made lists of reasons not to do it,” he said.
“Life is a gift. Many would miss me. I was stupid to think like that. Things would get better.”
Jerome, whose partner Michelle was pregnant when he was knocked unconscious in the ring, said the birth of his son, Cairo Jerome Junior Wilson, five months later gave him hope for the future.
“This baby is very, very special,” he said. “He represents my hopes for better things, being born out of the worst possible time – a positive to come from all the bad,” said Jerome.
The ex-boxer, who hopes to build his personal training business Wipeout Wilson Fitness back up and become a boxing trainer, said he had hoped his sport would eventually lead to an ‘extraordinary life’.
He had sparred in the ring with champions Kell Brook, Ryan Rhodes and Junior Witter as they made their way to the top and he had confidence in his ability. Curtis Woodhouse, a former Sheffield United footballer who turned to boxing, describes Jerome as ‘the most talented athlete I came across in 20 years of professional sport’.
“He was very, very gifted. I believe if Jerome chose any sport he would have excelled at it,” he added
But in the sixth round of his 11th professional fight – eight of which he had won – one single punch meant he would never ever box again.
“It was never about the money, although I suppose that was at the back of my mind. I was idealistic. I clung to a goal of making an extraordinary life,” he said.
“As a boxer you have to make many sacrifices. Sometimes the gamble pays off but on this occasion my career never did turn out how I hoped.”
Jerome, who has since watched footage of his ill-fated fight with Ambomo, said he hopes to one day meet up with the boxer who ended his career to discuss the fight. He said he emailed his opponent in the wake of the fight and described the Cameroonian’s showboating as he lay unconscious as ‘disrespectful’.
“There’s still bad feeling there,” admitted Jerome.
“I do think that soon I will be ready to forgive him. In fact, I know I must. I plan to arrange a meeting, with a friend who can translate, as he speaks French.
“My new life can’t flourish if it’s planted in resentment. I believe that. Growth begins from the root.”
Jerome, who had an operation to insert a titanium plate into his head to rebuild the skull in August, said he is now looking forward.
“The future can still be a good one for my family and me. I do believe that. You can grow from every experience, no matter what,” he added.
“I wish sometimes I could talk to my younger self, or lend him my eyes – I see so much further now than dreams and glory.”
n Author Mark Turley and publisher Pitch Publishing are donating all profits from the sale of the book ‘Wiped Out?’ to Jerome. It is available to buy on Amazon and in all good book shops.