A NORTH Belfast boxer has taken his first steps more than two years after being told he would never be able to walk again.
Stephen McMullan (27) was rushed to hospital the day after his fight at the Ulster Elite Amateur Finals at Girdwood Community Hub in December 2021. He had sustained a brain injury. Stephen spent five weeks in Intensive Care before being moved to the stroke ward. He was then transferred to Musgrave brain injury unit for intense rehabilitation.
In September 2022, Stephen, who suffers from locked-in syndrome and is confined to a wheelchair, returned to his Newington family home and requires round-the-clock care.
This week, Stephen shocked his family, taking his first steps after being told he would never walk again, with the moment captured on video.
Speaking to the North Belfast News, his sister Claire said it was an emotional and huge moment for the family.
"On Tuesday, Stephen took his first steps in my mummy’s living room where he stays," she explained. "It was exactly two years to the day after his friends and family took part in a charity fundraising walk at the Waterworks while he was in intensive care.
"He put his head on my shoulder and burst out crying with happiness.
"We all started crying. It was a very big moment and one which we never thought we would see. Stephen is definitely a lot stronger than before. He has not given up and has a lot of strength in him and is very positive.
"He is just taking everything as it comes."
Stephen and his family are planning fundraising for Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS) to "give something back" to those who have helped him in his recovery journey.
"We want to give something back to all the amazing people who helped him and to show others it is possible. We want to give people hope," added Claire.
"We have had loads of prizes donated to raffle off, including signed boxing gloves by Carl Frampton, Conor McGregor and Katie Taylor, a signed Celtic shirt, signed Northern Ireland shirt and much more.
"We are planning on doing a fundraising night, possibly on April 12, so keep your eyes peeled for details on 'Stephen McMullan Fundraiser' on Facebook.