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I've missed out on so much. I won't miss more; paralysed fighter ready for return to combat.

Byline: IAN JOHNSON ian.johnson@gazettemedia.co.uk @IANJOHNSONCHRON

AS he lay in hospital, paralysed from the waist down, Garry Sudron's family feared he'd never walk again.

But for the Whinney Banks mixed martial arts fighter, the question was always whether he would fight again.

Now, after facing life in a wheelchair, the 37-year-old dad will once again step foot inside a cage in what will be the final step on a truly astonishing road to recovery.

A freak training accident not only left Garry in hospital for 21 weeks, it turned his world upside down.

"I was fully paralysed, with no feeling from the waist down," said Garry.

It happened while he was "rolling" - or submission sparring - when his partner locked in a hold. It was a position the amateur fighter had been in thousands of times, only on this occasion it changed super-fit

Garry's life.

Extensive rehabilitation brought hope the paralysis wouldn't be permanent. Ice packs, hot water bottles and even rolling pins were applied in the hope it would get his nerves "firing again".

Eventually doctors told him he would walk, but Garry said: "I wouldn't settle for that, I want to fight again.

"They said 'shouldn't you be happy with walking?' but I said no. That would be settling. And I didn't know if I even would fight again but when I train for fights, I always do more of what's asked of me so I transferred that mindset into my rehab."

The fighting community rallied around stricken Garry to make his dream come true.

One night, when Garry got the itch to train, he called his boxing coach.

"He asked if I was all right now, and I had to tell him I was still in a wheelchair but that I could still box - and he told me to come down.

"The gym was on a second floor in Linthorpe Road, but the lads would come down and carry me up in my wheelchair. I'd go on the bags, and whatever combo everyone else was doing, I'd do it in my wheelchair."

Over the past three years, he's slowly built himself back up the point where he's now set to compete on the Olympus Fighting Championship's card - although there are still scary moments.

"There's been a couple of times, especially doing wrestling and jujutsu I've been squeezed or felt a twinge and I've said 'stop for a second.'.

Worry over his health, however, has been part of his life ever since that freak accident in 2017.

Garry knows the sport doesn't come without risk. And with two young lads at home, he's not keen to repeat the nightmare he's experienced. However, having lost so much during the last four years, he also feels like he has a new lease on life.

"My alarm goes off at 5.15am. When I was younger, or before the accident, I'd roll back over and snooze. Now it is just so easy to get out of bed, no matter how tired I am.

"I've missed out on so much, and I just don't want to miss any more."

And whatever the result when he steps into the octagon on September 26, his proud family know there's only one real winner.

Garry is also taking part in the Great North Run on behalf of the Teesside Family Foundation.

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Author:IAN JOHNSON ian.johnson@gazettemedia.co.uk @IANJOHNSONCHRON
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Aug 6, 2021
Words:553
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