Former boxer James Dorsey battles COVID-19

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Former boxer James Dorsey is in the battle of his life after contracting COVID-19.

He’s been on a ventilator for weeks, and his wife has shared the family’s fierce fight against the coronavirus with 7News.

“It’s heartbreaking to see someone so strong for so long succumb to such an illness,” Lisa Bartolo Dorsey said.

Dorsey was once a two-time Golden Gloves boxing champion, one-time middleweight and light-heavyweight contender.

He had 20 professional fights. He was once a sparring partner to two-time heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson.

Now, Dorsey is fighting for his life outside of the ring. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on July 22.

“Never did I think he would be stricken down with something of this nature, not that it couldn’t happen to anyone, but to someone of his strength and endurance and can-do, will-do mentality and health-conscientious lifestyle. I would’ve never bet a dollar on the fact that he would’ve been so sick,” Lisa said.

The 62-year-old Dorsey has proven to be a fighter.

“He’s showing good promise. He’s acquired an artificial lung machine, which we called the ECMO, for close to 18 days, and yet we were able to successfully disconnect him, and he’s breathing on his own with the help of a ventilator still,” Dr. David Irving of Holy Cross Hospital said.

In early June, Dorsey was working out, hitting the heavy bag outside the backyard of his Oakland Park home.

“Well, he was whacking the bag and doing road work, and then it just came on — stiffness in his neck, the breathing started being labored, and the fever — out of nowhere,” Lisa said.

For Lisa, it was a daily fight against COVID-19, praying that her husband’s health improves.

During this time, the boxing world has reached out to show their support, including opponents Dorsey once fought.

“Bobby Chez, you name it. It was all of them. He has fought Tony Tucker. So many people have reached out, the Muhammad Ali family, who is very close with us,” Lisa said.

Medical professionals are doing everything they can so that Dorsey can go the distance, survive and beat the virus. But there’s a message for everyone who’s in the midst of the coronavirus: It’s a fight before it can be knocked out.

“I just told him to keep fighting, and he won’t be able to talk to me for a while,” Lisa said.

According to the Dorsey family, the boxing world has reached out to help pay for some of the medical costs. They are also setting up a GoFundMe page.

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