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Rest In Peace, Patrick Day; Long Island Boxer, Age 27, Succumbs After Prize Fight

Michael Woods

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Rest in peace, warrior.

Patrick Day, age 27, from Freeport, Long Island, passed away on Wednesday, October 16,  after being knocked out out in a Saturday night boxing match against Charles Conwell.

The junior middleweight fighter was knocked down twice, and for the third time, in the tenth and final round, with 1:11 remaining. He hit his head on the canvas, then lost consciousness as he was being taken from the ring after several minutes. Day, who took up boxing at age 14, began seizing, was transported to a hospital, Northwestern Memorial, where a breathing tube was inserted. He had an emergency brain surgery.

He was in a coma, it was reported by promoter Lou Dibella on Sunday evening, and in “extremely critical condition.” Word broke, harshly, on Wednesday, in the late afternoon, at 5:46 ET–“He was surrounded by his family, close friends and members of his boxing team, including his mentor, friend and trainer Joe Higgins. On behalf of Patrick’s family, team, and those closest to him, we are grateful for the prayers, expressions of support and outpouring of love for Pat that have been so obvious since his injury.”

Young day took up this rigorous sport at 14; a neighbor, Higgins, trained fighters and teen Pat would peek into his garage, and watch people being tutored. He wanted in, and Higgins said yes. Day climbed the amateur ranks, won the NY GG in 2012 and then the US Nationals the same year. He was an alternate at the 2012 Olympics and as a pro, had to re-set his expectations after taking a few Ls. He told Ryan Songalia that he’d been coasting somewhat, then realized that he needed to go all-in mentally. The sharp and introspective Day had been getting work as “the B side,” the tough out who a prospect would need to go into fourth gear to get past.

He had his moments against Conwell, but looked to be headed to defeat when the Ohio fighter landed a super-sharp right hand on the left ear/temple area of day. That sent him reeling and then a left hook follow put him on his back.

To those that didn’t watch…Day went down in round four, after having some success. A lead right on the tip of the chin discombobulated the New Yorker. Conwell, an Ohio resident, was taking most of the minutes of each round, but Day hung tough. In round 8, he took a power right, which knocked him down, on his butt, at the very end of the round. Higgins told him not to back straight up, and asked him to make “a dogfight of it,” and please, don’t back straight up. In the tenth and final scheduled round, viewers saw Day with energy, bending his knees, but then he got caught. A hard right caught him clean, behind the left ear, and he slid, to try and get some space. A grazing right and then a left hook, a flush one, landed, and down went Day. On his back, and the ref didn’t bother counting, he was out of it. His eyes were open, but glazed. Conwell stopped celebrating, and his face turned tense, and he stared at the downed athete. Within a few minutes, Day was lifted out, on a gurney.

DAZN did the decent thing, and removed the fight from the replay of the portions of the card they presented, on their app.

Trainer Higgins told Newsday Sunday that Day was placed into a coma, doctors orders, and that is done to let physicians get a better handle on swelling, from fluid building up in the brain. The brain can swell, and push against the skull, reducing the flow of oxygen to the region. The news of Day’s traumatic brain injury hit the boxing world, and especially in the Freeport, NY region, quite hard. He was universally regarded as a gentleman-warrior, someone quick with a grin, a kind word, thoughtful conversation.

On Monday, we were all touched by an open letter sent out on social media by the grieving Conwell:

And trainer Higgins, too, sought to make some sense of the affair; he took to Twitter, to answer and speak to Conwell:

So, fans waited.

We wanted to hear of a miracle, though we heard on the grapevine that things looked bleak. Monday passed, faint hope bubbled up, maybe a miracle would play out? Tuesday came, no word…Then, Wednesday, the news we didn’t want, in the least. He was gone. Below is the release sent out by Dibella Promotions.

This one hurts, and we will see some folks edging away from the not often sweet enough and too often savage science. We know the sport saves souls, every day, and is a refuge for people who fall in between life’s too copious cracks.

But the downsides–we can only imagine how his mom, dad, his three older brothers are pained–the toll enacted on good souls who deserve ample tribulations…it stings.

We send our heartfelt regards to family and close friends, and wish a measure of peace to them during this painful period.

 

STATEMENT ON THE PASSING OF PATRICK DAY

Patrick Day passed away today, October 16, 2019, succumbing to the traumatic brain injury he suffered in his fight this past Saturday, October 12, at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL. He was surrounded by his family, close friends and members of his boxing team, including his mentor, friend and trainer Joe Higgins. On behalf of Patrick’s family, team, and those closest to him, we are grateful for the prayers, expressions of support and outpouring of love for Pat that have been so obvious since his injury.

Before establishing himself as a world class professional fighter, Pat was a highly decorated amateur. He won two Nationals titles, the New York Golden Gloves tournament and was an Olympic Team alternate, all in 2012. Day turned pro in 2013 and overcame early career struggles to become a world-rated super welterweight contender. He captured the WBC Continental Americas championship in 2017 and the IBF Intercontinental championship in 2019. In June 2019, he was rated in the top-10 by both the WBC and IBF.

He was also a dedicated college student, having earned an Associate’s degree in Food and Nutrition from Nassau Community College and, subsequently, a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Wellness from Kaplan University. He was a son, brother, and good friend to many. Pat’s kindness, positivity, and generosity of spirit made a lasting impression with everyone he met. During his short life, boxing allowed Patrick to impact many communities, both big and small. In his hometown of Freeport, Long Island, he was a beacon of light and the star pupil at the Freeport PAL, the gym he trained in from the moment he began boxing until the last bout of his career. He was recognized as one of Long Island’s finest professional fighters for years. He was a fixture in the boxing community throughout New York City. Patrick was even known in Japan, which he visited to spar with his friend and colleague, world champion Ryota Murata.

Patrick Day didn’t need to box. He came from a good family, he was smart, educated, had good values and had other avenues available to him to earn a living. He chose to box, knowing the inherent risks that every fighter faces when he or she walks into a boxing ring. Boxing is what Pat loved to do. It’s how he inspired people and it was something that made him feel alive.

It becomes very difficult to explain away or justify the dangers of boxing at a time like this. This is not a time where edicts or pronouncements are appropriate, or the answers are readily available. It is, however, a time for a call to action. While we don’t have the answers, we certainly know many of the questions, have the means to answer them, and have the opportunity to respond responsibly and accordingly and make boxing safer for all who participate. This is a way we can honor the legacy of Pat Day. Many people live much longer than Patrick’s 27 years, wondering if they made a difference or positively affected their world. This was not the case for Patrick Day when he left us. Rest in peace and power, Pat, with the angels.

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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