After Eduard Gutknecht had lost his boxing match for the WBA’s international title to George Groves on November 18, the fight of his life was just about to begin. It looks like for Eddy and his family this fight will continue forever.
Five months on from the event, his wife Julia has opened up in an interview with boxwelt.de and revealed the shocking truth to interviewer Alexandra Kostenko.
Q: Julia, the question that moves boxing fans all over the world is: How is Eddy doing by now?
Julia: It hurts to say but we must be happy that he’s alive. From the medical point of view, he is stable. He feels that we are there and we’re convinced that he recognizes us.
Q: What is your memory of that night? Did you notice that anything was wrong during the fight?
Julia: I switched off television after 6 rounds. I was just too worried about Eddy. I was only praying that he will get home safe and sound. Until today I haven’t watched the later rounds. I can’t.
Q: Do you think it would have been better to stop the fight?
Julia: If the fight had been stopped early, Eddy might not be injured so badly now. Perhaps there would be a chance of living an independent life at least. With these kinds of injuries every minute
counts. But I can’t keep asking that question as it destroys me. I can’t turn back the time. All I can do is to accept the heavy fate that we face now. I need all my strength to help Eddy as good as I can and bring him back to life in a way. And at the same time, I have to take care of our three children.
Question: Do you know what happened after the fight? The condition Eddy was in when he was rushed to the hospital in London?
Julia: After the fight, I waited for a call from Eddy. In vain. I called him myself several times and texted him. But he didn’t reply. Normally he’d always called me after his fights. This time even his brother and father didn’t know anything. Around 1 am in the morning someone informed Eddy’s brother Alex that Eddy was in the hospital for a safety check because of his eye. But it didn’t sound dramatic. We were told not to panic at first. Later that night we received the shocking call that Eddy needed emergency surgery because of a cerebral bleeding and that he was in danger of not surviving the night.
Later I found out what had happened straight after the fight: Eddy came to the locker room and was looking for the doctor to close his cut. He sat down and was not able to take his shoes off. He couldn’t even put his legs up on the sofa. So his team-mate helped him. Eddy said something about pain but everyone thought he was talking about his sore eye. The doctor closed the cut when Eddy started to tremble all over the body, sweating and feeling really bad. And all of a sudden his eyes just twisted backwards and Eddy passed out. That was when the doctor finally realized that something was very wrong and that there was no more time to waste. They called the emergency but he was not even fit enough for transport anymore. So he had received first aid treatment in the locker room before he was taken to the hospital.
Q: How long was he in a coma?
Julia: Two days after the operation they reduced sedation. But even one week later he didn’t wake up and the doctors told us: "We’re very sorry. This is now his condition." He was not in an induced coma anymore but still unconscious. And this remained like that for five more weeks.
Q: What are the doctors’ opinions on Eddy's current condition?
Julia: The doctors say this is a very severe injury. It’s already a miracle he has survived. The right hemisphere is almost completely damaged. And he suffered several strokes again and again in the whole brain.
Q: What are the doctors' predictions for the future?
Julia: The doctors said that he will be dependent on care for good. The damage is just too big. And even after the past five months he only makes little progress. We’re supposed to get used to that. And they told us that rehab was about to end. But we didn’t want to give up. So we managed to move him to another facility. But here as well we were told just a few days ago that Eddy’s rehab will be over after 8-12 weeks the latest. He has to go home then. So he will always be in need of care.
Q: How successful has the rehab been? Is Eddy able to walk again?
Julia: No, unfortunately he cannot walk or speak. We hope to hear his voice again though. I also hope that one day he’ll put his arms around me again and tell me, 'Darling, I love you. I know
you are my wife and we have three wonderful children.' But at the moment he’s only able to communicate by nodding.
Q: The fight was five months ago. What has happened in the meantime besides rehab?
Julia: My sister has moved here to support me. I’m looking for a part time job at least for some hours - if it’s possible. I’ve sold everything I could sell. I explained to the children what had happened and allowed them to go and see their dad. George Groves’ promoter contacted me and he wants to send me the funds he’s collected.
Q: What about Eddy’s promoter?
Julia: We are not in touch anymore.
Q: Is Eddy financially set for life?
Julia: No, he’s not. Unfortunately, there are no occupational insurance associations for boxers in Germany. You don’t receive any pension or the like.
Q: You were talking about your three children. How old are they?
Julia: The oldest is 8 years old. Our middle son is 7 years old and our girl is 3 years old.
Q: What kind of help is currently needed?
Julia: Our home needs to be adapted to disabled people. And I have to buy the equipment which is necessary to continue with his therapies he’s been receiving during rehab. The thing is that the health insurance company won’t pay for all the costs for home care although in Eddy’s case improvement is possible even after half a year or more. I’m going to support Eddy to my very best. But I need help because he needs to be looked after around the clock.
I know that many fans and friends will criticize me for publishing pictures of him and asking for help. I myself struggled with that decision. But unfortunately, I have no choice. This is the only way to give Eddy the chance of making progress instead of accepting things as they are right now.
If someone wants to help directly, the Gutknecht family is looking forward to every little donation. Here's the bank data:
Here's the bank data:
Account holder: Julia Gutknecht
IBAN: DE75 2695 1311 0142 0337 03
Reason for payment: You never walk alone
Translated for WBN by Carolin Bluechel. Follow on Twitter @CarolinBluechel