He has a medal, $500 and a foot-long surgical scar snaking around his cranium.
A Kamloops man is under around-the-clock family supervision after emergency brain surgery for a concussion he suffered while winning the So You Think You Wanna Fight competition Saturday at the KXA.
Mike Boyer, 35, a body-builder, entered his first tough-man competition but now swears he'll never set foot in the ring again.
"It's not happening for me," Boyer said, still suffering pain and watched over by his stepmom, a licensed practical nurse who rushed to Kamloops from the Island with his father, Sandy.
"I don't want to do that anymore. I proved my point."
"We didn't know whether he'd be dead or alive when we got here," Sandy Boyer said.
Mike said a friend is seeking legal advice on his behalf because there appeared to be no doctor on site, a safety provision he thought was required.
There was talk around the ring before the match that it would not be able to proceed for that reason. Twenty-nine fighters were ready to compete while about 200 spectators watched.
"Usually they can't have a fight unless they have a doctor," Mike said. "I didn't see any doctor."
With a couple of friends who've been involved in the past, Mike figured he'd test his strength in the ring. Bouts are fast — two one-minute rounds — and quick to the punch.
"I won my first fight. I won pretty easy, then I saw my next opponent."
Dan Baxter was a 200-pound challenger from Nanaimo, a little heavier than Boyer.
"I underestimated him. I thought, 'I'm going to win over this guy.' He hits pretty hard. At one point, I thought I was going to lose, but I came back. It was a split decision."
After friends congratulated him on his win, he started feeling lightheaded and sick to his stomach. When he vomited, ambulance attendants came to his aid and rushed him to RIH, a ride he doesn't remember. A CT scan revealed bleeding on the brain. He underwent six hours of surgery.
"I was like, 'Hurry up, please drill.' I was in so much pain. They said I was screaming. The painkiller didn't work."
Now he faces an uncertain period of recovery. He was already on disability due to earlier injuries. He was hit by a car when he was just seven years old.
His advice to other novice boxers?
"Think twice. It's a lot more than I thought it was. It's frickin' hard. You're getting blows to the head."
So You Wanna Fight Cuz Ya Think You're Tough is hardly new to B.C.
The amateur boxing/mixed martial arts competitions — with their motto, "No Pros Just Average Joes" — have been held around the province with thousands of short bouts since 1990, said promoter Don Arnott of Nanaimo.
Arnott was surprised Thursday to hear of Mike Boyer's concussion injury.
"Nobody told me about this," he said. "That's the first time that's ever happened in probably more than 100 events." He was equally surprised no one had contacted him about the injury and wanted to contact Boyer immediately.
"It's always a concern, the safety of these guys. That's why we have an ambulance on site." A physician on site is not required, he noted.
"All a doctor does is dial 911 to bring an ambulance."
The matches are kept short to prevent head injuries caused by repeated blows. Special amateur gloves, with more padding than professional ones, are used.
That hasn't satisfied the B.C. Medical Association, which is calling for a ban on tough-man boxing and mixed martial arts. They are a risk to brain health, said BCMA president Dr. Nasir Jatha.
"This is a dangerous activity," Dr. Jatha said. "It is not a sport. We have come out and said this is an activity that should be banned outright. We hope legislators will heed this and bring in stronger Legislation."
He questioned the safety record of such events. Any contact sport brings risk of injury, but hockey and football players wear protective gear.
"It is a moot point to say we don't see any major injuries."
Repeated blows to the head can cause chronic encephalomalacia, he noted. That brings risk of stroke, paralysis, difficulties in cognitive function and dementia. The medical community and the public in general need to act, he said.
"We all need to band together to do something about this."