Boxing: Watson makes first public appearance after 18-month convalescence

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL WATSON made his first public appearance yesterday since the traumatic evening in September 1991 when his attempt to win the World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title from Chris Eubank resulted in the Londoner sustaining horrific head injuries

that left him close to death, writes Nick Halling.

It has been a slow 18-month convalescence, but his presence at Arsenal Football Club - albeit in a severely reduced state - is a tribute to his enduring qualities of fortitude and determination.

Watson attended the Highbury photo-call to promote a fund-raising event to be staged at the football ground this Sunday. The promoters, Universal Sports and Entertaiment Corporation, hope to raise pounds 500,000, all of which will go to Watson.

Ambrose Mendy, the chairman of the corporation and Nigel Benn's former business adviser, has employed his considerable talents of persuasion to assemble an impressive cast of actors, singers and footballers to perform during the six-hour event.

Those donating their time include the former world middleweight champion, Marvin Hagler, the decathlete Daley Thompson, the musicians Chrissie Hynde and Billy Ocean, and a squad of former Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur players.

The event will culminate with an appearance from Watson himself. Unable to walk, he is confined to a wheelchair, and can stand only with the support of a frame. The right side of his body has responded to treatment, but the left remains virtually useless. His comprehension is sound, but his ability to respond verbally is hampered by slow, laboured speech.

Tickets available from Arsenal FC box office: 071-354 5404. pounds 5 adults, pounds 2.50 children. Gates open 12.30pm.

(Photograph omitted)