Some years ago, as a hopeful, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young kickboxer, I paid a visit to my physio. No doubt I had twisted/snapped/sprained something minor and needed some attention. I remember asking him while sitting on the table, “How dangerous is kickboxing, do you think, for my health?”

Gary Nicholls gave me a look which suggested he was affronted by my gormlessness, but sought to make his way around it by way of a gentle anecdote. “We have this young guy playing for Collingwood at the moment,” Gary began. “He’s had a nasty series of concussions over the last twelve months, and now he gets mystery headaches – we don’t know why. Anyway, the doctors have decided that, should he be concussed again, we’re going to have to retire him. Now. Think about that; in AFL, injury is a side-effect of playing the game. In your sport, it’s the whole point.”

These words of wisdom come to haunt me on a regular basis, most notably when I am sitting around in pain. I fought last week-end in Queensland – and won, thankfully – and now have to deal with the unpleasant fruits of the venture. To wit, my right leg. The above X-ray shows some of the damage; there are a number of suspicious fragments floating around in the joint. This has put the kibosh on my aspirations for the festival of arse-kicking that is set to transpire on October 17. More gruesome, however, is the actual appearance of my leg. I have a suspicious distention mid-way along the anterior calf, beside the shin. At first, I thought it was just a lump on the bone. Now, however, I’m starting to wonder, given the springyness of the mound, whether or not it isn’t herniated.

My ankle is enormous and just beginning to bruise. Visible bruising, as a sign of injury, is grossly over-rated. Real bruising is deep and can’t be seen on the skin. Once it becomes visible, this is a sign of recovery as the dead blood rises to the surface. My ankle is starting to blacken, but even more significantly, a band of purple is emerging along the sole of my foot. Often when you sprain your ankle, the blood washes out into your foot, toward your toes.    

Kickboxing, heavyweight kickboxing especially, is about damage. I must be a heavyweight, because I am damaged!

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