A knock to the head while working as a labourer in Australia would change Peter Coghlan’s life forever.
Working on an under-road tunnel in Perth, Coghlan stood up and bashed his head on a concrete kerb - within hours, it was clear something was terribly wrong.
The 41-year-old, already a cancer survivor having developed Hodgkin Lymphoma while serving as a soldier in Northern Ireland with the Cheshire Regiment, developed Locked-in Syndrome, a medical condition that left him confined to a hospital bed for weeks, unable to move an inch of his body, save his eyes, while his brain remained as active as ever.
Unbelievably, after spending almost every minute to try and force his body to move his thumbs and fingers, Coghlan managed to force a twitch. His body was finally starting to listen to him again.
Miraculously, a year on, the Stockport-man was finally able to leave the hospital, literally having had to teach himself to walk again.
Now Coghlan has found solace in boxing, a sport he was admittedly hesitant to get involved in at first:
"I was a bit nervous about going. I thought, ‘What are they going to think of me? I can’t even punch my way out of a paper bag.’"
But when I got there, they gave me a pair of gloves, got me punching some mitts and that. When I put those gloves on, something inside me was born - I just fell in love with boxing straight away.
“It’s a new feeling born inside me when I’ve got the gloves on, I love it.”
Coghlan’s passion for ‘the sweet science’ has been nurtured by fitness instructor Travis Scott-Trumpet of Inclusive Lifestyle Fitness: “I’m just getting him working hard and trying to get the muscle action working and trying to work on his shoulder, his scapula, see if he can engage it a bit more.”
Coghlan added: “I train with Travis because he’s got a passion for disability - I can see that and he really gets me fired up.”
Right now, Coghlan is seeing how far he can take his new-found passion and says he has an eye on testing his skills in sparring:
“I think my goals the way they’re going now, I’d like to see just how far I can push this.
From paralysed to boxing, maybe within a year. I’d like to get up against, you know, my first sparring so to speak in the boxing ring because I do feel I’m getting stronger, I do feel like I’m getting braver, every year - why not? I love the sport, I love putting the gloves on, let’s see how far I can push it.
Coghlan also chronicled his extraordinary story in his own book, ‘In the Blink of an Eye: Reborn’ which you can find here.