Stephen James Adams

My gorgeous (6ft 8in) man Steve Adams opened his dream Thai boxing gym (Golden Team) in Leeds in June 2009, while I was 5 months pregnant with our daughter Olivia.

Just before her 1st birthday Steve proposed and we booked our wedding.

We were very excited and it seemed like all our dreams had come true. We were also celebrating another baby on the way; but just 3 days after my 12 week scan Steve collapsed outside his gym!

He had stepped out for some fresh air during a training session at around 12.30pm on Saturday 20th November 2010. One of our friends found him and shouted in the gym for help. His students and paramedics tried to revive him but he was pronounced dead at the LGI hospital at 2pm.

Steve was former British (Muay Thai) heavyweight champion, extremely fit and trained 5/6 days per week. He trained 18 champions, trained and sparred with Mark Russell (world champion), Matt Skelton (K1/Heavyweight British boxing champion, Neil Wain (UFC) and was very much in love with the sport.

He was also a massive Leeds United fan and played for Leeds boys when he was younger. Steve had run marathons and just 9 months before his death he took part in the Tough Guy Challenge 2010 to raise money in memory of Chris Loftus (Steve’s brother’s brother-in-law), who was stabbed at a Leeds United match in Istanbul in 2000.

Steve was always telling jokes and he made sure everyone who came down to the gym felt special. My gentle giant was very much loved by all and over 800 people attended his funeral at the Leeds Cathedral on one of the snowiest days of the past few years.

The frustrating thing is that the loss of Steve could have been prevented! Two years prior to his death I heard his heart beating irregularly while watching a film cuddled up on the sofa. This prompted him to go to the doctors who sent him for further tests. The tests came back and he was told his heart was enlarged but this was totally normal for someone who trains as much as he did.

Steve was getting breathless during some training sessions and feeling tired doing things he could usually breeze through. As he was a big role model he was ashamed of this and didn’t complain about it, but I persuaded him to go back to the doctors who diagnosed his condition as exercise induced asthma.

The inhaler and tablets didn’t seem to make much difference so he got a stronger inhaler. We were both convinced he didn’t have asthma but it was too late as he collapsed before he went back to doctors.

Many of Steve’s friends and family have found his sudden death very hard to deal with but have still given me and my girls much needed support. I have witnessed people grieve in very different ways but most of us have pulled together and a big memorial Thai boxing show was held in Steve’s memory on the anniversary of his death.

I wish I had known about CRY then. I feel I have missed an opportunity to raise money to support this amazing charity.

I have spent my time and energy looking after myself through my pregnancy and making sure Olivia, new baby Juliet and Steve’s son Luke (10) have lots of memorabilia of their dad.

I have made folders with school reports, old newspaper cuttings, photos and interests.

They all have a big box with his favourite songs, books, clothes, medals and much more. This is so important to me, as my girls will only have the memories I give them.

With the help of Steve’s friend we put together a DVD of all our home movies and it’s just amazing. All his children will know just what a loving and caring father they had.

Olivia is now 2 and a half and Juliet 10 months, and I’m now looking into Steve’s cause of death in more detail. After speaking to Dr Mary Sheppard – consultant histopatholgist who examined Steve’s heart – and receiving research from CRY, I have a much better understanding of Steve’s condition. He died of idiopathic left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) with an enlarged heart.

If this had been correctly diagnosed the condition is totally reversible by doing less exercise. The relationship between LVH and HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) or other cardiomyopathies is not yet known.

25% of Dr Mary Sheppard’s sudden death cases are caused by LVH and over 50% of cases are people over the age of 35. Steve was 40 when he died but had been suffering symptoms for over 2 years.

I’m always getting questions from the sportsmen who are in Steve’s industry, so helping CRY raise awareness is a goal of mine.

I’m currently training to do the Great North Run to raise money for CRY and hopefully make a difference so other families can be spared the pain and loss of what we have been through.

Steve was a very motivational man and many of his quotes run through my head and keep me strong. Our lives will always have a massive hole and Steve will be missed every day but I can’t dwell on the negative as I want to bring up two very happy girls because I know that would make Steve very proud of me.

I believe he is watching from heaven and even though I lost my world the day he died I also found an inner strength I never knew was there.

Laura Adams