John Murray was just 29 years old when his dream of becoming a world champion was destroyed. He was a professional boxer for 11 years and had reached the glorious heights of becoming British and European lightweight champion. After an unsuccessful world title challenge against undefeated American Brandon Rios in New York in 2011, he was steadily rebuilding his career and was on the cusp of having another shot at world glory.
However, that all came crashing down on April 19th 2014. Murray challenged fellow Mancunian fighter Anthony Crolla in an eliminator for the WBA world championship belt and lost. It was his 36th professional fight and just his third defeat. He wasn’t used to losing and not only did he lose the battle on that painful night, but he was also forced to wave goodbye to his boxing career.
He left the ring with a right eye similar in appearance to an abnormally large plum. Further examination revealed he had in fact suffered a detached retina, and with that he was forced into retirement.
By his own admission, he enjoyed some of the sport’s extreme highs but also endured some of its deepest lows. Earlier in his career he also suffered a failed brain scan, which fortunately turned out to have been misread, but for a moment death was a very realistic possibility.
“Boxing the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
But it’s the positives memories that the 32-year-old’s taken with him in his next chapter as a trainer. Unfortunately, though, permanent eyesight damage has had to follow him too. It is an unfortunate daily reminder to himself, and to everyone else, of what this sport is easily capable of.
Fast forward to 2017 and Murray’s still heavily involved in boxing. He’s set up a business and now runs his own ‘Murray Machines‘ gym, thanks to the money earned from fighting. Coaching both amateur and professional fighters now, including brother Joe, it could come as surprise that Murray hasn’t been poisoned by the sport that’s going to hamper him for the rest of his life. But this is more than just a sport, it’s a way of life, and “it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me”.
Watch former champion John Murray reflect on his boxing career and his detached retina
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Header image credit: Jon Scriven granted permission. Owner of Boxing Media UK.