Wisbech ex-boxer Mark wins bravery award, 24 years after suffering brain haemorrhage during title-winning bout

Boxer Mark Goult. Picture: Steve Williams.

Boxer Mark Goult. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

A boxer who was given just hours to live after suffering a brain haemorrhage during a bout has, 24 years later, received a bravery award.

Boxer Mark Goult with Mum Jackie and Dad Cliff.

Boxer Mark Goult with Mum Jackie and Dad Cliff. - Credit: Archant

On March 20, 1990, the then 21-year-old Mark Goult, of Wisbech, clinched the southern area bantamweight title in Norwich.

But, back in the changing room, he collapsed and was rushed to hospital, where he received emergency surgery.

Mark’s family was told he had no chance of survival but he pulled through and, to this day, has continued to defy doctors’ predictions.

Now 45, Mark was presented with the Welsh Ex-Boxers Association’s Johnny Owen Courage Award, named after the late Welsh boxer who lost his life in a bout in Mexico in 1980, at a ceremony in Wales.

Boxer Mark Goult

Boxer Mark Goult - Credit: Archant

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The association supports former boxers who have fallen on hard times.

Mark’s parents Cliff and Jackie also received the Johnny Owen Carers Award.

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Mrs Goult said: “We are very touched by the award. It was quite a surprise. We knew Mark was going to get an award but they then called us up on stage as well.”

Reflecting on the life-changing night 24 years ago, she said: “I received two phone calls. The first one was to say that he had won the belt and the second to say he had collapsed and had gone to the hospital.

Boxer Mark Goult.

Boxer Mark Goult. - Credit: Archant

“The surgeon told us he was bleeding from hundreds of places in the brain. They said he had two hours to live.”

Mark spent 15 days on life support, five weeks in a coma and was not released from hospital until that October.

Twenty-four years on, he is still on the road to recovery, but there have been some major triumphs. He can walk short distances and Mr Goult said Mark “knows how to use computers better than me”.

In the aftermath of Mark’s injury, the Wisbech Standard launched an appeal to raise £4,000 to go towards his recovery.

The appeal had a stunning response — hundreds of fund-raising events were staged, with almost £10,700 raised.

The night that delight turned into despair

March 20, 1990, was meant to be a night of celebration for Wisbech boxer Mark Goult and his family.

Mark had just clinched the southern area bantamweight title in Norwich with a points win over Danny Porter.

His father Cliff, brother Wayne and sister-in-law Alison were ringside to watch him being presented with the belt by former boxing champion Dave ‘Boy’ Green, of Chatteris.

But, back in the changing room, he began to feel unwell. Moments later, he collapsed and was rushed to hospital.

The 21-year-old had suffered a brain haemorrhage. Upon arrival at Norwich and Norfolk Hospital he had emergency surgery.

The doctors operated on him for five-and-a-half hours but they feared it would be in vain.

His brain was bleeding in numerous places and he only had a pint of blood left in his body.

There was no chance Mark would pull through, his family was told. He had hours to live.

Mr Goult said: “The surgeon’s name was Mr Brain. He said he would be back in a couple of hours but he did not expect Mark to still be with us. When he got back and Mark was still hanging in there, he said ‘your son must be a very fit man’.”

Mark spent 15 days on life support. Five weeks later, he was still in a coma.

It was not until the end of July that he fully regained consciousness. He did not leave hospital until October 4.

Brother Wayne, after witnessing what had happened to his brother, did not box again.

Life has been a struggle for Mark, who is paralysed on his right side, but his perseverance is paying off.

Mum Jackie Goult said: “The doctors told us he would never walk again but he was determined to walk. We used to carry him up the stairs but now he can walk up them.

“He knows everything that’s going on around him, although his speech is affected.”

Mark’s battle has touched many high-profile people both within and outside of the boxing fraternity.

He has met heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali and was sent a pair of gloves by current super-middleweight world champion Carl Froch. There has even been an audience with Prince Charles.

Mrs Goult said: “Prince Charles told Mark he used to box but he didn’t enjoy it very much because he didn’t like getting his ears punched!”

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