AS Scots rocker Ally McErlaine steps into the ring and swaps body blows with Turkish national boxer-come trainer Sedat Sag, it’s hard not to be stunned by the musician’s miraculous return to fitness.
Three years ago, the Texas star collapsed from a Grade 5 brain aneurysm.
He fell into a coma and died twice on the operating table.
Doctors told his wife Shelly the best she could hope for was that he would survive but be unable to walk or talk.
As he does the Ally shuffle in the North London Boxing Club, the 44-year-old guitarist said: “I really enjoy it but it is hard work. At my age, you have got to keep fit. I get in the ring.
“This is my local boxing gym and my friends all come here.
“We punch pads and do other types of exercises.
“It is the best hour of fitness training you can do, I think.
“It is seriously high intensity. I don’t wear the headgear because Sedat doesn’t punch me in the head for obvious reasons, but I punch him in the head.
“It is mostly pad work but there is a bit of sparring.”
Now, Ally trains twice a week, doing the Ally shuffle that has earned him the nickname Mchammad Ally.
Despite initial concerns about Ally’s medical history, Sedat, 29, says the musician’s attitude is second
“I have been training Ally for a year,” Sedat explained.
“When he first started here he was obviously a little bit worried because he had a medical problem.
“Because he is a guitarist, he was also worried about his hands.
“I didn’t know his fitness level and I found out that he had just recovered from his brain damage.
“I was worried so I took it easy with him. I was getting him to do sit-ups, which he couldn’t do at first because his balance wasn’t great. He wanted to take it easy at the beginning so we started with the fitness side of boxing.
“We used punchbags and warm-up work and pads.
“But he is much healthier than lots of people and, after a while, Ally showed an interest in sparring.
“We do head and body sparring but not full contact. He loves it more than other sports.”