03 May, 2019
Michael Valentin is a professional boxer. He’s also had a stoma since birth. Aged nineteen he has won all six of his fights.
In April this year Michael joined Team Colostomy UK. In this exclusive interview Michael tells us about his life growing up, the challenges he has faced and how he dreams of being a World Champion.
Can you tell us a bit about your life growing up?
Well first off I want to thank you guys from Colostomy UK for spreading my story.
It was tough growing up, we grew up in a small household, there was myself & five other siblings with my mother and father in just a 3 bedroom house.
I can recall when I was little there were times we’d have no lights for days & sometimes weeks, with my mother just making sure we had a roof over our head and a meal in our stomach, my mother always made ends meet.
Growing up with a colostomy bag was tough. I was always in and out of the hospital with severe abdominal pain, mostly at least once a month, but those struggles made me stronger and made me realise how hard life is and how we have to work to achieve things.
Nothing never came easy for me & my family, at a young age we all worked to help the household whether it was for food or bills, but we always made ends meet.
You’ve got an Italian and Puerto Rican background. I bet family meals were great!
Yes , it’s an honor for me to be Puerto Rican and Italian, I have very little Italian in me but I always represent where I come form, my mother is half Italian and half Puerto Rican and my father is 100% Puerto Rican so we had some great dinners growing up!
At what age did you have a Colostomy and how did you and your family react to the news?
I was diagnosed with hirchsprungs disease minutes after I was born. I went under surgery immediately and had my Colostomy bag put on.
My mother took it hardest. I was in hospital for the first six months of my life, so she suffered a lot from it but she’s raised me right and made me understand the concept of living with a medical condition.
What made you want to become a boxer?
It’s funny because my big brother Robert used to box at amateur level, and you know everyone wants to be like the big brother so I grew up seeing him and my dad training in the living room and I slowly started liking the sport more and more.
Did you have an amateur career before you went pro?
Yes I did I didn’t have a lot of amateur experience, I had 35 wins and only 7 losses
When you showed your bag in the ring was that a spontaneous decision or were you always planning to do it?
Well that wasn’t really planned, but I was having talks with my surgeons about having my colostomy bag reversed and we had planned the surgery date. After I was announced the winner I felt like telling the world the secret that no one other than my family, team and close friends knew about.
It wasn’t an easy thing to do at all, it brought tears to my eyes saying it to the crowd but I wanted the world to know my story and try to motivate others like myself that no medical condition should stop you from achieving your goals and dreams in life.
You were meant to have a reversal, what happened?
Yes, August 8th 2018 was the day of my reversal.
After surgery I was having trouble going to the bathroom and adjusting my body to using the bathroom.
I had a few accidents, then I started adjusting to it, for the first 10 days after the surgery I wasn’t able to eat, my surgeons wanted my intestines to heal so when I was able to eat I started eating fine then two days after I caught a blockage in my stomach. The food wasn’t processing and wouldn’t go down, so for about thirty hours I couldn’t use the bathroom and my stomach was very hard with the food still there.
We had a few X-rays and MRI’s and then my surgeons told me I would have to have a Colostomy again.
It was tough and a very hard thing for me to do.
It was exactly 2 weeks from the first surgery that I had, so it was depressing knowing I had to go under surgery again and put my colostomy bag back on.
You’re now undefeated 6 and 0. What would you like to achieve in boxing?
Well my dream & goal in life was to box professionally, and knowing I had a bag everyone was doubting me but I had too much heart to give up on my dream, so when I turned professional at seventeen I signed a three year deal with Classic Entertainment & sports and had my pro debut at the age of eighteen. My next goal is to become a world champion and soon I will be.
What would your message be to any young kids with a stoma who dream of being a pro athlete?
I would like to keep inspiring the world and let young people know that dreams come true we just have to believe in ourselves. With hard work and dedication any thing is possible .
Finally, we’re really proud to have you as part of Team Colostomy UK. Any messages for your fans in the UK?
I want to thank you guys for all your support. Keep on supporting me and following me and my career, hopefully soon enough I will be fighting in the UK.
I want to thank you guys once again for the support, and thank you Giovanni for believing and supporting my career.
©Copyright Colostomy UK 2019. No part of this article may be produced without the prior permission of colostomy UK