Boxing champ Rod Douglas walks back to health at Ability Bow gym after life-threatening stroke
- Credit: Ability Bow/Svetlana Litenkova
Former Commonwealth middleweight boxing champ Rod Douglas is now walking again after starting therapy at Ability Bow gymnasium following a life-threatening stroke.
He was in hospital for two months and left in a wheelchair, but has been making a steady recovery since joining the gym in St Stephen’s Road, Old Ford.
The 54-year-old gold medalist who won the 1986 Commonwealth Games for England is now able to walk mostly unaided following regular exercise on bike, treadmill and stepping machines.
“To be able to walk again is brilliant,” he said. “I may not be able to walk all the time, but just walking in itself is amazing.”
Rod began therapy at the disabilities gym at St Paul’s Church near Roman Road Market last summer to develop his mobility and general fitness, travelling for his weekly sessions from his home in Campbell Road in Bromley-by-Bow.
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He believes he would have died without the help of close friend Svetlana Litenkova who reacted quickly and called an ambulance following his stroke in 2017.
“I’m so thankful to be here,” Rod added. “My friends and family were praying for me during this time, but I used this strength to pull through and feel much better since starting the therapy.”
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His health was affected after a brain injury in 1989 when he had to retire from boxing.
Rod, who also represented Britain at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, is one of 400 disabled people using the gym every year, with many being referred by NHS hospitals and GPs.
Ability Bow founder Victoria Kent said: “Rod is a fantastic example of what can be achieved through exercise over a short time.
“We are aiming to develop a new one-to-one service to enable people to live healthier and more active lives and are always on the lookout for support. We can make vital cost savings to health services.”
Ability Bow runs exercise therapy for people with brain injuries and strokes, as well as helping those with neurological conditions including Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. It also runs sessions to aid mental health, hearing and sight loss.
But the gym is having to rely on fundraising and public donations to keep going, after its NHS funding ended back in 2007.