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Boxer Mike Towell ‘did not spar’ in weeks before fatal fight

The 25-year-old suffered severe headaches in the lead-up to the bout and died the day after his fifth-round loss to Dale Evans, FAI told.

Boxer Mike Towell was suffering from severe headaches and did not spar for almost three weeks in the lead-up to his final bout, a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) has heard.

The 25-year-old, known as Iron Mike Towell, had also collapsed a number of times in the years before he died and was advised by doctors in 2013 not to fight.

The father, from Dundee, died in hospital the day after he was removed from the ring at the end of a fifth-round loss to Dale Evans in Glasgow on September 29 2016.

He was diagnosed with severe bleeding and swelling to his brain but survived for 12 hours after being taken off life support at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

His mother Tracey Towell said her son “lived for boxing” and took part in the 2016 fight because he “didn’t want to let people down”.

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Mike Towell ‘didn’t want to let people down’, his mother said (Dundee Boxing Club/PA)

On the first day of the inquiry into his death, Mrs Towell, 53, said she first contacted doctors in May 2013 after twice finding her son had fallen out of bed and was confused.

She said her son maintained there was nothing wrong with him but medical records showed he was taken to hospital by his partner after another suspected seizure in September 2013 when he was “strongly advised” not to box but told doctors he would continue to do so.

Mrs Towell told the FAI at Glasgow Sheriff Court: “Boxing was Michael’s life. It was so important to him. That’s what he lived for.”

In May 2016, Mr Towell was again taken by ambulance to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee after a seizure at home.

He told doctor he had been binge-drinking and had taken cocaine in the last few weeks.

Mrs Towell said she asked the doctor if the drink and drugs after weeks of hard training could be the cause: “They said ‘yeah, it’s possible’.”

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Mourners wore T-shirts with a picture of Towell to his funeral in 2016 (Jane Barlow/PA)

In the build-up to the fight with Evans, Towell took 12 weeks’ unpaid leave from work, with sponsors and fundraising supporting his training.

His mother told the inquiry that around eight weeks before the fight he was put through three consecutive sparring sessions with different boxers.

Mrs Towel said: “He was raging, he was livid. He said he got the hiding of his life and that they were never going to do that to him again.

“He looked like he’d done 12 rounds with Mike Tyson.”

On September 11, he was again taken to Ninewells Hospital after pulling out of a sparring session with a severe headache.

His mother met him at the hospital and said: “He was in agony. He was in bits, he had tears in his eyes it was that bad.

“He was lying on the landing and the nurse could see he was in severe distress.”

It seemed to be getting better but he never sparred again until he went inside the ring for this fight Mother Tracey Towell

Mrs Towell said her son “begged” for a scan and he felt “like the inside of his head was moving”.

The mother said doctors told him it was a bad migraine and he was given co-codamol.

At a pre-arranged GP appointment the following day, Towell was given more medication.

She said: “It was after that big sparring session that he started getting more headaches.

“It seemed to be getting better but he never sparred again until he went inside the ring for this fight.”

Asked why her son went ahead with the fight when he was not sparring, Mrs Towell said: “Because his sponsors had paid him and I really feel he didn’t want to let people down.”

She added: “I was quite happy for him to fight. I was worried about him but as the weeks went on he wasn’t complaining about a sore head so I just put it down to what the doctor said.

“I think he knew himself there was something wrong. But I think he just thought he would look into it after the fight.”

The inquiry continues.

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