The best friend of Dundee boxer “Iron” Mike Towell has paid tribute to his pal on the fifth anniversary of his death.
The 25-year-old fell into a coma on September 29, 2016, following a bout with Welsh competitor Dale Evans and later died in hospital.
Mike was stretchered from the ring at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow after being stopped by the referee in the fifth round of what was his 13th professional fight.
A later FAI revealed he had complained of a severe headache in the lead up to what was the biggest match of his career — a televised British welterweight title eliminator.
The FAI findings revealed the fight “should never have taken place”.
‘I love you and don’t tell you enough
Now, on the fifth anniversary, Kenny Rattray, who helped train Mike, has spoken of his respect and love for his “best friend.”
Kenny said he was the last person Mike talked to that night before he went into the ring.
Recalling the tragic fight Kenny said: “I was the last person to ever speak to him.
“He messaged me from his hotel room five minutes before his ring walk.
“He was gloved up and ready to go. His last words were ‘Kenny I love you and I don’t tell you enough’ – how sad , it was completely devastating.
“Never will I have another man who loved me like that.
“I’ve never felt that kind of love in my life and I can only hope that he felt the same love back from me.”
Describing the last five years, Kenny said it was the loneliest and most painful journey he has gone through.
“I have to stay strong for the people who depend on me but at the same time my heart is broken in two,” he said.
Kenny admits he went through a very difficult period in his life following Mike’s death.
However, he took inspiration from Mike and moved forward to compete in his man challenges, including a recent 215-mile ultra marathon.
He kept photos of Mike pinned to his running shoes to keep him motivated.
Kenny has admitted he has pushed through the difficult times during these by keeping Mike’s face pinned on to the front of his running shoes.
“When I have hit the wall I have looked down at Mike and that has given me the strength and courage to carry on,” he said.
“Fate brought us together – we were soul mates .”
Kenny said he will never forget the night Mike asked him to be his trainer, leading to them becoming inseparable.
“I was his best friend, his fitness coach and I taught him how to swim,” he said.
Kenny said his thoughts were with Mike’s family at this difficult time.
A fatal accident inquiry about the death was held in 2019.
It found his Welsh opponent Dale, who delivered the fatal blow, was blameless.
He retired from the sport after admitting his passion had been replaced with “worry and fear” following the September 2016 bout.
Dale also paid tribute to Mike, calling him “a great fighter, an entertainer and a hard-working, family man”.
He added: “Not a day goes by where I don’t think of the man or his family.”
5 years since the passing of a great fighter, an entertainer & a hard-working, family man. Not a day goes by where I don't think of the man or his family. Thinking of every single loved one in Dundee, especially Mikey's Mum (Tracey), Chloe & little Rocco. Love to you all 💙🏴 pic.twitter.com/xBAyepCCvs
— Dale Evans (@DaleEvans_912) September 30, 2021
The FAI determination, by Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull, found six precautions could have been taken to avoid Mike’s death.
Five of these related to his failure to disclose information about his health to doctors.
The sheriff also found a “defect in a system” operated by governing body the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) allowing boxers to withhold information.