HE was due to fight an opponent with a name, a face and a record in less than two weeks but was first struck down by a different kind of enemy. An enemy unexpected, unwelcome and unidentifiable. The original fight was scheduled, so allowed for preparation and a plan. The latest was not. Instead, the bell was an alarm, the ring a bed at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, and the rules were as follows: should the number on a heart rate machine drop below 40, an alarm would be triggered, and Dan Sarkozi would be woken by nurses at his bedside.
Predictably, given Sarkozi is an athlete with a low resting heart rate, the machine read 38 and his sleep was interrupted. “Look,” he told the fleet of nurses by his bed, “you’re just going to have to turn it off for me. I’m fine.”
It was soon seven o’clock in the morning and the first round was over. Sleep was rubbed from his eyes as six nurses, preparing for handover, rubbed theirs for different reasons. Never, they said, had they seen numbers so low and a patient so alive. They asked him if he was okay and Sarkozi confirmed he was. He then explained he was a fit and healthy professional boxer in full-time training and that the biggest fight of his life was just 10 days away.