Jeff Fenech recounts ‘scary’ Bangkok heart surgery

JEFF Fenech is back in Australia after surviving a life-threatening scare in Thailand.

Speaking from his home in Sydney, the former three-division titleholder revealed the seriousness of his surgery, despite not knowing the original cause.

“They’ve done so many tests, and they can’t find where the infection started,” Fenech told The Main Event Boxing Podcast.

“It’s really bizarre, but you can just have an infection anywhere without knowing… it can become very serious, which mine did. If I hadn’t organised it all (the training camp), I wouldn’t of gone.

“I didn’t feel like going, but like I said, I was just lethargic. But when I got over there, I had sore shoulders. While I was over there, the infection got worse.”

Flanked by his team of fighters, including the likes of Brock Jarvis and Jack Brubaker, Fenech now realises the severity of the situation, including the potential ramifications for his loved ones.

“I remember the boys in the room, I remember the ambulance coming,” he explained.

“All the rest is a blur. I don’t remember going to hospital, I don’t remember having an operation, I don’t remember prior to the operation. I remember waking up after, and that’s where life started again for me.

“It’s more than scary to me. I would’ve left the family behind and I’ve got a few little problems I wanted to fix at home. I would’ve left my family in a really bad way.

“I’m not one hundred percent at the moment… I’m happy to sit at home, I’m happy to be in my own bed.”

Although boxing isn’t seen as a team sport, the inclusive nature of Fenech’s tightly knit stable is there for all to see. Citing the quick-thinking of his boxers – who ignored Fenech’s initial plea for privacy – things could’ve looked much different.

With the dust still settling on the frightening saga, the 55-year-old reflects on the episode with a sense of sadness, remembering those who chose not to reach out, including former trainer Johnny Lewis.

“The boys really showed they cared about me,” he added.

“All the boys who were with me really love me. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t of come up and been checking on me, I wouldn’t be here.

“Not to get a phone call from Johnny Lewis was the most heartbreaking thing ever. I still think about it today. For me, there’s no mending that. If anything happened to him, or anyone in his family, I’d be there in a second.

“I would’ve flown him home if I had to, I wouldn’t even think twice. I’m not sure if he sent me a message or not… a message isn’t good enough. If we were father and son, if we were brothers, we made each other.

“There would be no Johnny Lewis without Jeff Fenech, and there’d be no Jeff Fenech without Johnny Lewis. He was my perfect ally, my cup of tea with milk and sugar.”

The bulk of his team have parked their fight preparations, allowing Fenech to keep a firm eye on the aforementioned Brubaker, who faces Tim Tszyu on December 6th as part of the mouth-watering No Limit Boxing pay-per-view.

Fenech knows that his charge is a live underdog, but is quick to serve a timely reminder of the looming task at hand.

“Jack is one of those guys who grew on me really quickly,” he concluded.

“You ask him to do something and he does it, you can’t ask for any more than that. I’ve told Jack that if we fight the right fight, we can win the fight.

“If you don’t, I’m going to stop the fight. Hopefully that’s going to be enough to give him the motivation to do what I need to do, to implement my game plan.

“If he fights right, he won’t get hurt… he’s training really hard. He’s got an amazing opportunity, if he wins he’ll have another opportunity to go onto bigger and better things.

“My job is to help him and make it the easiest road, and so he doesn’t get hurt.”

Photo: Provided