BoxRec News was delighted to speak to Jonjo yesterday, who reflected on how blessed he is with his life. His partner of some twelve years, Joanne, is expecting their third child, and today they find out whether it's a boy or a girl that will be joining their two daughters. This time next year, Jonjo and Joanne are planning to get married.
"I'm so lucky to be here," said Jonjo. "I'm just over the moon that I am here with my missus and kids and I'm recovering."
On July 27 last year, Jonjo boxed Navenby's Ryan Clark for a Masters super middleweight title. He struggled in making the twelve stone limit. Jonjo says he felt groggy during the rounds, and was put down by a right hook early in the sixth that very nearly ended his life. As he left the ring on a stretcher, bravely raising his arm, many feared the worst as Jonjo was rushed to Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre.
After surgery, Jonjo spent two and half weeks in a coma. Throughout his remarkable recovery, he admits that some days have been better than others. He's had to learn to do things over again, but ends each sentence on a positive:
"The fatigue factor really gets me. I'm forever tired, and knackered all the time. But I'm not doing too bad at all."
Jonjo then touched on this week's tragic news that Worcestershire's Billy Smith has left us:
"I was absolutely gutted to hear about Billy. I boxed his brother Ernie (who sadly also took his own life 2011). I have so much respect for them both, and it's such sad news."
The support Jonjo received from friends, family and the boxing community has played a vital role in his rehabilitation:
"It was hard at first knowing that I could never box again. It's been my life since I was nine years old. But as the time passes, I realise more how lucky I am to be able to see my family every day."
Jonjo recalls that making twelve stone for his last fight was extremely difficult, and feels that more could be done to support boxers who often have huge amounts of unseen pressure heaped upon them in the run up to fights:
"It was awful. It killed me to make 12 stone. I should have turned around and said no, I'm not going to box, but when you get offered the chance, and you get it in your head that you can do it, you think it'll be alright. But if you don't make weight properly, it just takes that one shot, you know what I mean?"
"Boxers definitely need someone to guide them and help them make crucial decisions about weight in the run up to fights. Personally, I think a lot of the cause of what happened to me was about the weight."
"If your struggling, you're halfway through training camp, your selling tickets to people, and you don't want to let anyone down. As a fighter, you just want the opportunities. If someone rang me up and asked if I could make light middle, I'd tell them no problem, and I'd be straight off the phone on a run."
For Jonjo, a highlight of this years' boxing calendar will be when Floyd Mayweather and Saul Alvarez meet in Vegas, and he's hoping to get out for the fight if the hospital says he can fly.
And there's plenty more to look forward to. Jonjo remains heavily involved in boxing, and is now helping to train young 'uns, spending time between Burton ABC, Swadlincote Boxing Academy and Errol's Johnson's TKO gym in Wednesbury. He also hopes to open a gym to nurture local talent.
A year on from the day that boxing almost took his life, the positivity and gratitude that Jonjo exudes towards those that have helped him recover is truly heartening.
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