Top MLW star Richard Holliday (Joe Zimbardi) is currently battling cancer.
Holliday spoke with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated this week and revealed that he has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma Stage 4.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Holliday said. “You never expect this will happen to you. I took such pride in my health, so to get news like this was quite shocking.”
The 30 year old Holliday has not wrestled since losing the Falls Count Anywhere match to MLW World Heavyweight Champion Alexander Hammerstone at the MLW Battle Riot IV tapings on June 23. He noted dhow he began experiencing a bad case of night sweats in June, while preparing for the match with Hammerstone, which was to be the payoff to their feud, which solidified Holliday’s rise in MLW as a top heel.
However, plans for the push were halted due to Holliday’s health. He revealed how he struggled to get through every day.
“When I wrestled Hammer in June, I was taking Dayquil to try to get through every day,” Holliday said. “I kept pushing and pushing, but I just felt off. At that point, I had just got home from California. The whole time I was there, I was freezing. I was pale white when I left after a month.”
Holliday first thought he had contracted some sort of virus or stomach bug, but his condition worsened once the match with Hammerstone was over. He dealt with severe dizzy spells in July, which forced him to go to the Emergency Room. Holliday’s iron and hemoglobin levels were dangerously low, and doctors believed he was anemic.
“I was taking iron pills to try to counter that, but my levels kept dropping,” Holliday said. “They checked if I had internal bleeding, which I didn’t, and then they ran a litany of tests and a scan of my body for a possible case of lymphoma in September. Those tests confirmed it was Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”
Holliday was sitting in a sterile room at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, CT, with his mother on speaker-phone, when a doctor first informed him that he had cancer.
“It was earth-shattering, devastating,” Holliday said. “But I knew right then I needed to change my mindset. The mind powers the body, so I needed to stay positive. I was reassured by my doctor that I could beat this, and I believe I am going to beat this.”
Holliday immediately requested to start chemotherapy, during the same discussion where the doctor informed him of the diagnosis. His aggressive outlook did not change when he learned that the diagnosis was Stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He is already halfway through his 12 rounds of chemotherapy.
“My plan is not to lose to lymphoma; my plan is to inspire people,” he said. “I’m going to come out of this stronger, and I’m going to let people know they can beat it, too.”
Holliday is focused on staying in shape as he continues to work out. His new favorite form of cardio is a long walk, but that will change as he becomes stronger and more able to build endurance and physical activity.
Regarding his in-ring future, Holliday noted that a return to the ring is constantly on his mind, which is a sign his recovery is progressing. It was said that the thought of returning to the ring and resuming his life’s work is his instant inspiration right now.
“For a little while at first, I was so busy with treatments, I felt so removed from wrestling,” Holliday says. “It was even tough to watch, knowing it was ripped away from me. Now I can’t stop thinking about my return.
“Outside of my family, wrestling is the most important thing in my life. I was so upset it was taken from me. Now I’m so excited for the future.”
Holliday said he maps out his wrestling return every single day. He is ready mentally, but knows he still needs more time to be physically ready.
“I think about my return every single day,” Holliday says. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. But this is a process. I know there are more steps after chemotherapy. Mentally, right now, I am ready. Physically, I know it’s going to take some time. But I will be back.”
It was reported earlier this year that Holliday and real-life girlfriend Alicia Atout were signed to multi-year MLW contracts. It remains to be seen if they are still an item.
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