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Divine intervention led to dream meet says bereaved boxing fanatic
WE all chase our dreams but sometimes they are just out of our reach.
It looked as though that would be the case for Grays boxing fanatic Brian Johnson, who dreamt of meeting former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.
However, despite some near misses, he finally met his idol in 2010 and he puts it down to divine intervention, or rather his daughter’s intervention.
Brian’s world was turned upside down when his 19-year-old daughter Katie was killed in February 2008 in an accident on the A13. He says he thought he would ‘never be the same again’.
Two months before Katie’s death she told her dad it would ‘be a miracle’ if he ever met Tyson and he told her he would not given up on his dream; a dream he knew would come true one day.
Brian, 46, thought he would be able to meet Tyson in 2004, after he saw the boxer was in London.
Brian drove to London from his home in Stifford Clays, arriving at the Park Lane Hotel around 9am. The hours ticked by but Brian said he wasn’t budging when asked what he was doing by the doorman.
“I was waiting 12 hours and then I heard Mike had left through a backdoor, as his security wouldn’t let him meet me!”
Brian went home to laughs from his family and none found it funnier than Katie, who told him he would ‘never get the chance to meet him.’ Although he scoured the internet to see when Tyson would next be coming to the UK, he did not appear and in 2008 Brian lost his daughter.
Brian’s love for boxing dwindled in the period after Katie’s death but when he heard Tyson was coming to the UK in July 2010 for a Q&A session in Peterborough he knew he had to be there.
“Tickets sold out and I thought ‘please don’t let this happen again’ so I rang the organiser and asked if I could volunteer at the event, by putting out chairs and generally helping out. I had nothing to lose and, amazingly, he said yes!
“So on July 15 I went to Peterborough and my family wished me luck, without thinking I stood a chance and I got to watch the show.”
Tyson also suffered heartache in 2009 when his daughter Exodus died after she got her neck caught in the power cable of a treadmill.
At the end of the show Tyson was given a card from his UK fans, offering their condolences, and he said to the crows ‘If there is a father in this room whose lost a daughter they would understand the pain of losing a child.’ Then it happened. Tyson looked at Brian and Brian said there was an ‘understanding’ but that wasn’t then end.
“I was eating my dinner at the show and I got a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and it was a big, burly security guard.
“He said ‘Mike wants to see you?’ and I said ‘Mike who?’ to which he responded ‘Well, how many Mike’s have you come here to see?’ “I couldn’t believe it and I heard Katie in my head. She was saying ‘this is your chance Dad. You’ve got to take it.’ “I went with him and before I knew it was standing face to face with Mike Tyson on stage. I gave him a hug and a present, as it had just been his birthday.
“He said to me, ‘I think we have a connection’ and I thought ‘why would he think that? How would he know that?
“I told him about Katie and he told me to keep my chin up and keep believing.”
As Brian was leaving he was directed to a gift that had been left for him - by Mike Tyson. It was the official promotional photo of the day.
Brian left Peterborough and went straight to Katie’s grave in North Stifford, arriving in the middle of the night, to show her the photo.
He said: “I told her I had met Mike. I said ‘You said it would be a miracle, I’ve done it.’ Brian set up the Katie Johnson Trust Fund in 2013, a charity which helps families who have lost a child, and says he is using it as inspiration to help others who have been in his position.
“No-one can prepare for losing a child. It was the harest time of my life but helping others has helped me and I am very grateful for that.”
Astonishingly Brian met Tyson again in April 2012, when he was in Slough. He had gone to another Q&A session and met Tyson’s wife Kiki, who knew who he was!
“When I said my name was Brian, she knew about Katie and said Mike had told her about our meeting. I was blown away and she said I had to see Mike again.
“I thought ‘Katie’s at it again!’ and I had my present from Mike signed by the great man.
“Watching him gave me inspiration to go on and pull myself back together and I can’t thank him enough.”
Brian has tickets to see Tyson’s UK tour next year, although the ex-boxer is currently barred from the UK as new laws permit anyone who has served more than four years in jail cannot enter the country.
Brian said: “They say these things happen in threes. I will be keeping my fingers crossed.”
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