N.B. boxer David Whittom remembered by those closest to him
The New Brunswick-born boxer passed away Friday, 10 months after sustaining serious injuries during a match
Friends, family and colleagues of David Whittom, the boxer who died after sustaining a traumatic brain injury in his final bout, are remembering the man following his death Friday in Fredericton.
Whittom, a native of St. Quentin, N.B., was rushed to hospital following what was intended to be the final fight of his career in Fredericton in May 2017 . He underwent surgery for a brain hemorrhage after which he was placed in an induced coma.
"This time I said to myself, it's real," said Whittom's girlfriend Jelana Zerdoner on Sunday. "This time, he's really not here anymore."
"The hardest thing is to accept that it's really finished right now," said Zerdoner from Quebec. "Because the 10 months that he was in a coma and unconscious it was like 'okay, I understand the situation, I accept it, but I knew that he's still here that he's still alive.'"
Whittom turned 39 on March 10.
"When they called me to tell me that he's dead, I thought 'Oh my god, now it's really true. It's real. He left,'" said Zerdoner. "I can't see him anymore."
The finality is hard, she said. "And I don't have the words to explain what I feel inside."
Zerdoner said she will miss Whittom's strength.
"He always protected me," she said.
"He was always the person who was so strong, and he always showed me how to be stronger than I am."
Whittom's obituary, published Sunday morning, states "David was a professional boxer and spent a great deal of his time in the ring. It was the greatest passion of his life."
Whittom lost to his opponent, Gary Kopas of Saskatoon, in the 10th round of their fight. Both men were competing for the Canadian Professional Boxing Council cruiserweight championship.
"It's just a horrible situation," wrote Kopas to CBC News on Saturday. "I feel for his family and friends."
In October, the New Brunswick Combat Sport Commission said an internal review found no wrongdoing or neglect with the boxing match.
Family will receive condolences on Monday, March 26, in Fredericton at the Église Sainte-Anne-des-Pays-Bas Catholic church, followed by a memorial mass at 2 p.m.