Freeport pro boxer Patrick Day, 27, was fighting for his life at press time after he was knocked out and suffered a traumatic brain injury last Saturday in the 10th round of his U.S. Boxing Association super welterweight title fight against Charles Conwell at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
Day’s management said he was in “extremely critical condition” and in a coma at Northwestern Memorial Hospital after undergoing emergency surgery. According to news reports on the fight, Day went down twice, in the fourth and eighth rounds, and was knocked unconscious by a left hook in the 10th round.
He was carried out of the ring on a stretcher and suffered a seizure en route to the hospital, according to ESPN. At press time on Wednesday, the Day family, along with Patrick’s coach, Joe Higgins, who is also from Freeport, asked for privacy. No further information on Day’s condition was available.
Prayers and other expressions of support have poured in on social media. “We appreciate the outpouring of support, prayers and offers of assistance from all corners of the boxing community,” said Day’s spokesman, Lou DiBella.
Members of Freeport PAL Boxing gathered at the PAL gym at Bishop Frank O. White Memorial Park on Tuesday for a prayer circle. Boxers, coaches, friends and family members shared memories of Day and words of encouragement.
“Let’s go, champ!” the crowd roared.
PAL boxer Titus Williams described Day as a leader and Williams’s role model.
“Patrick only knows one speed — in the ring and life,” he said. “He’s a dedicated fighter and spiritual person.” Coach Sal Giovannilo, who was in Chicago with Day and Higgins, said that Day was a tough fighter, and he was optimistic that his condition would improve.
“We pray for Pat, Joe and the Day family,” Giovannilo said. “He’ll come home.”
Freeporter Jizzixious Bishop, who was also in Chicago with Day, said he wouldn’t have cleaned up his act if Day hadn’t mentored him and motivated him to become a leader.
“He changed my life,” Bishop said. “He has to get through this.”
Throughout the evening on Tuesday, family members, friends and boxers exchanged embraces and prayed for Day’s recovery.
At times they chanted, “Patrick Day, all day!”
“Today we can’t be sad,” Bishop said. “We need all of the positive energy and prayers for Pat’s recovery.” The future of the Freeport PAL boxing program is uncertain, according to Higgins. The gym is now closed. “I can’t bear another kid getting hurt,” he said Tuesday morning.
Long Beach boxer Seanie Monaghan, who's trained with Day since their earliest days in the sport at the Freeport PAL, referred to him as his little brother. "Everyone always says the nicest things about people when something bad happens but this is literally the nicest young gentleman of a kid you could ever meet," Monaghan said. "[He's] from a great family. We’re still all waiting for him to fight through this like the young stud champion he is."
The Rev. Douglas Arcoleo, of Our Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, and members of the Word of Life Church, where Day is a member, also shared prayers and words of encouragement.
Conwell wrote a letter to Day via Twitter on Monday, saying, “I never meant for this to happen to you. All I ever wanted to do was win.” Conwell said he has replayed the fight many times in his head, thinking, “What if this never happened, and why did it happen to you?”
Since the fight, he said, he has cried and prayed for Day’s recovery — and considered quitting boxing, but ultimately decided against it, believing that Day wouldn’t want that. Conwell signed off #ChampPatrickDay.
Higgins responded to Conwell’s tweets hours later, writing, “I, too, am distraught because I feel responsible, but do realize there is no fault. Stay strong and please don’t think we blame you.” Higgins also said, “We know if it was the other way around, we would be just as distraught.”
Following Higgins’s comments, Conwell’s trainer, Roshaw Jones, said, “Not your fault coach, stay strong.”
Going into the fight, Day was the WBC Continental Americas champ, with a 17-3-1 record.