Sheffield boxer reveals a life of challenges and struggles after brain injury

Injured boxer Jerome Wilson has written a book about his life and ordeal after he almost died in after a fight a year ago.
Injured boxer Jerome Wilson has written a book about his life and ordeal after he almost died in after a fight a year ago.
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Jerome Wilson faces chronic pain every day of his life.

It is a reminder of how boxing can go horribly wrong.

On September 12, 2014, the Sheffielder suffered catastrophic head injuries in a fight against Serge Ambomo.

He underwent surgery, was placed temporarily in a coma, and his recuperation continues. Today, Jerome, 31, answers questions about his life.

How are you?

I have regained most physical functions but it hasn’t come easy. Hard work, determination and advice from my team at the Sheffield Head Injury Rehabilitation Centre has got me where I’m at: I’m now able to do more.

A cheeky Christmas picture of Jerome taking a nap!

A cheeky Christmas picture of Jerome taking a nap!

I have daily chronic pain in my head, from neck and spine from nerve damage, the metal plate bolted into my head and the operation.

The fatigue is frustrating and disabling and I have short term memory issues. I’m not the same.

How do you reflect on experiences since the Ambomo fight?

I learned many things about myself, what needs change, what my problems are, what needs working on. I’ve made mistakes along the way, I’m only human, so as long as I learn from them it I can draw strength. I have had to learn the hard way. What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger, they say.

I’ve been through some very dark places that I still visit from time to time but I now know how to deal with this and get back on track and rise out of the darkness.

Who has been your rock?

Mine and my partner’s family; in particular my kids and partner Michelle have stuck by me through difficult times and we give each other motivation, purpose, and strength to get though a life that throws many curved balls at us.

If you could have done anything different in the recovery period, what would it have been?

It would of been of real importance if I’d been able to access rehabilitation after being discharged from hospital. Unfortunately I had 11 months with quarter of my skull off my head and wasn’t able to access help and support from the specialist therapists due to awaiting my second head operation.

It wasn’t ideal but I’m happy to be coming through it. I know that this will be never ending but it’s my reality. I’m not bitter about it, I get down from time to time but I have to get on with it.

Did some people’s sympathy disappear over time?

Many people showed genuine concern for me. A lot drifted away as they knew I survived, they must think all is well now. A few have stuck by me to help me along the way. For that I’m truly grateful.

I don’t do sympathy, as I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. But showing a bit of empathy is all, if anything, I ask from anyone, as this would allow them to understand where I’m coming from and not just say something just to sound good at the time and then later on down the line forget it.

Because I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable I tend to stay indoors a lot, not only because of this but I suffer from problems related to my brain injury that make getting out a lot more challenging and tiring on me. I don’t expect, everyone has their own life and problems.

I have to work on the things I need to to then be able to do more in the future. I’m happy with this fact now, but I did once find it frustrating.

Describe your feelings, towards Ambomo?

I have no feelings towards him, he was a past opponent, we had a decent fight on two occasions, the last one causing to have a bleed on the brain, but that’s all. Good luck to him in his career.

How do you see 2017 panning out?

I have to keep working hard on my recovery, achieving small goals and finding further specialists to help aid my recovery and help manage my pain and disabilities. Continue to promote my book ‘Wiped Out? The Jerome Wilson story’ available on Amazon and book stores.

Hopefully gain sufficient support from the British Boxing Board of Control, for myself and for other fighters who may have to deal with this and those who may also be living with brain injury and its effects right now. I feel more could be done by them, to be honest.

When you see boxers getting injured - how do you cope with that?

When I see any fighter sustaining an injury it really hurts, knowing what I myself encountering life threatening and life changing injuries through boxing it hits closer to home. Boxing is dangerous, full stop. Things can go wrong. But in life accidents/injuries happen all the time.

When I look around at what’s happening in the world it frightens me.

Boxing steers many people away from antisocial behaviour. It carries many dangers in itself but does more good than bad.

How do you keep fit now?

I’m a qualified fitness instructor/personal trainer. I cannot take part in the fitness regimes I once did before. My pain tolerance, cognitive and physical deficits make it very difficult to carry out anything too straining, so now I’ll just continue to eat as healthy as possible and concentrate on keeping my core strong by doing Pilates style exercise.

If you had one wish for the festive season, what would it be?

That all my loved ones have the best possible time and achieve all of their goals in the New Year. To all readers, have a great new year, if it isn’t great find out why and do something to rectify the issues. Nothing worth fighting for ever comes easy.