The thoughts and prayers of the world boxing community today lay with Swedish Pro and former Super Featherweight world champion Frida Wallberg (11-1-2-KOs) who suffered serious head injuries in Friday night’s WBC title bout against Australian Diana Prazak.
The extremely popular ‘Golden Girl’ from Åtvidaberg in Östergötland, , suffered a devastating 8th round KO in her title fight against Prazak (12-2, 8-KOs).
Wallberg ,who celebrated her 30th birthday on 28 April, is in intensive care at the world renowned Karolinksa University Hospital in the Swedish capital .Reports indicate that she was placed in a medically induced coma after receiving emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain from a cerebral haemorrhage. She underwent surgery in the early hours of Saturday morning, soon after being rushed to the medical facility by ambulance.
The Swede took some severe punishment in the seventh but continued the round. In the 8th round, Wallberg was again on the receiving end and was knocked down by a short left hook, and later took an eight count from referee, Bela Florian. She bravely continued but went down again shortly thereafter at which point referee Florian terminated the bout.
Under Sweden’s strict safety rules, Wallberg had undergone a scan only 2 weeks prior to the bout with no problems noted. One theory is that she could subsequently have suffered problems during tough training sessions undertaken since the scan. There has also been suggestions from various sources that the ringside doctor was slow to act after the bout ended and had to be summoned back to the ringside by Prazak’s trainer, former Dutch world champion Lucia Rijker who demanded immediate medical action.
Film maker Suzanna Edwards had been following the ‘Golden Girl’s career’ for two years for a future documentary and it is understood that the Swedish boxing commission are interested in reviewing this, particularly the footage from recent sparring sessions in Spain against male boxers.
Late Saturday evening, Swedish media reported that Wallberg has been awakened by the Hospital doctors , was able to move her fingers and answer questions, though it was suggested that she would be later re-sedated. . She remains in the hospital’s Intensive care unit. One thing is for sure and that under the very strict rules enforced by the Swedish Boxing Federation, Wallberg will no longer be able to box professionally in Sweden.
News just in from the Swedish capital suggests that Wallberg is now out of the induced coma, talking to her boyfriend Robert Stridsberg and hospital staff and showing early encouraging signs of making a good recovery. Her boyfriend, boxing promoter Stridsberg posted this message on Facebook at her request:
“I´m awake now and don´t want anyone to worry. I am tired after all the medication. I felt I had the fight but my legs got heavy after the fifth and I was caught by a swing in the eighth.”
The message ,in Swedish, is signed, “Hugs from a tired Frida Wallberg.”
Prazak and her trainer did everything possible to comfort Wallberg after the fight whilst awaiting ambulance transfer to hospital. Prazak said on her Facebook page Saturday : “All fighters want the win by KO … just what we had planned and trained for [came] at a big cost.” She added : “My prayers and thoughts are with Frida and her loved ones. Please send your prayers and thoughts for her too.”
Irish boxers and fans will recall that Frida Wallberg was one of the first ever AIBA World Amateur Champions, taking the 2001 AIBA world (63.5kg) title in Scranton,USA defeating French champion Myriam Lamare in the final. Days earlier the 15 years old Katie Taylor had won her first ever bout against 16 yrs old Alanna Audley in the National Stadium. Indeed one of the other medallists in Scranton that year was India’s Mary Kom.
Only last month Frida Wallberg was due to spar Katie Taylor though that session fell through following Taylor’s hand injury which has kept her out of the ring, competitively, since it occurred.
The 30 years old Wallberg, who has an eight years old daughter, Nellie, was Sweden’s leading amateur star from the age of 16 and went on to became one of the world’s premier amateurs during the period 1999-2003. She became world champion as 18-year-old winning the world title in Scranton, United States in 2001 in the first ever amateur world championships for women organized by the AIBA. In her amateur career she won 48 out of a total of 53 bouts and captured the Swedish title six years in a row from 1998 to 2003. She won the European title in 2000 and 2001 as well as the Worlds also in 2001,