April 3, 2018
April 3, 2018
Daniel Franco

Stacey Verbeek

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LAST year Daniel Franco almost died. He was knocked out cold by Jose Haro in Iowa, America then placed into an induced coma in a bid to save his life. A substantial portion of his skull was surgically removed. He will never fight again, at least not in the ring.

Those are the facts of a tragic story which was brought to the attention of the boxing world last year.

But Franco’s former promotional stable, RocNation owned by Jay-Z, have evidently refused to help pay their former fighter’s substantial medical bills. This is in spite of frequent attempts from friends, family and reporters to simply get in touch with those involved higher up within the organisation.

“I’ve still not been reached out to by RocNation,” Franco outlined to Boxing News. “It’s sad that a company with so much net worth and reach, they can’t find time in their schedule to help me when I was nearly dead.”

The 27-year-old now owes in excess of £500,000, an overwhelming amount for a boxer now unable to continue his craft.

The extent of the behaviour from those who were supposedly in charge of overseeing the safety and progress of their client runs further than simply just overlooking such a life-altering situation. The promotional stable and its wealthy owner were not asked for any money, but rather were expected to assist in some manner financially.

Confirmed by those close to Franco, they were also told not to make any public statements and received assurances that the GoFundMe page that was set-up would be pushed on their widescale online following. It ultimately turned out to be a false promise.

“Not a thing at all, no calls, letters or mentions,” explains a frustrated Al Franco, Daniel’s father and trainer.

“You know I am disappointed in them as a business. They lied by saying they would push the GoFundMe page and for us to refrain from doing any interviews.

“We never asked for anything from them, money, nothing. In fact, I had brought up the interview requests and, out of respect, I mentioned it to them before we agreed to do any interviews. So we didn’t do one.

“They never pushed Daniel’s GoFundMe account one time. That’s all we had asked for. There was no reason for them to hide like that. They are acting guilty and keeping everything close to their chest. I don’t understand why.”

As a fighter, Franco regularly had to deal with the pressure of stepping into the ring in front of thousands of people and performing under the bright lights. With that aspect of his life now reduced to fond memories of the past, he was bravely able to stand in front of a large crowd once again since the injury.

“I was able to attend an event with lots of noise and be in front of a large crowd of people. It was fun to do that again, it was to receive an award for courage,” he continued.

The Californian was honoured with the Boxing Writers Association of America’s 2017 Bill Crawford Courage Award, and rightfully so, for his admirable and inspiring spirit in the face of such testing times.

“I’ve been going to school and just been studying and living life now,” Franco added. “It’s so much different without boxing in my life, but I usually go to the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays to teach at the boxing gym still.”

While RocNation’s Jay-Z has been busy in the headlines this year, Franco has been trying to rebuild his life ever since that fateful summer night last year.

The former featherweight prospect has begun a new life outside of competing in the ring, with a new focus and less threatening passions undertaken. But, despite his professional and personal future ultimately lying away from boxing, he will always be a fighter, in every walk of life.