Katie Dallam Part Two: Finding peace while the fight continues
Interview by "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (August 23, 2005)
In part one of Katie’s story [Part 1] we dove into the very fight that put her into her situation, now we will peek into what has kept Katie fighting all these years and how she copes with her everyday struggles.
Art by Kattie Dallam
It ain’t over till it’s over!
Katie Dallam will not go down without a fight, ask Sumya Anani, ask her family and friends, just ask the fighter herself who has been in an endless battle within the mental ring battling her own demons since December 11th 1996. Although it hasn’t been easy, or this wild time a joy ride, it is life, her life, her fight and she is not, will not, she absolutely refuses to throw in the towel!
We all have life changing experiences, some are for the good some for the bad and some can be more critical than others and alter your everyday life to where all you have is just what you have, your sanity, and even at times we question that aspect of life. So we all need a place we can hide, find peace, serenity, to put it in simple terms just find that happy place unwind and be ourselves.
Art! Yes, painting is where Katie can just be Katie; just call it her brand of rehabilitation.
After surviving a very tattered childhood and alcoholism, which she battled from the age of fourteen, Katie overcame the obstacles and after a stint in the Air Force Dallam earned a Master’s Degree as an Educational and Counseling Physiologist and worked for the state of Missouri as a substance abuse counselor. To get away from the harsh realities from her job and everyday life Katie used painting to find peace and relaxation. So after Katie’s almost life ending ordeal in the ring that left her mentally incapable of certain everyday functions the only way Katie could find happiness and escape her disabilities was through her art.
Her artwork has changed from the pre-fight days of happy colors and peaceful scenes to the dark figures that scream out from the canvas after her near death experience. And even though the artwork can be grim at times she harbors no hard feelings for any that were involved the night of the accident. So even though the actual fight is over for Katie the mental anguish continues on everyday of her life, and mentally she battles on. Although she will never be the same person she was almost nine years ago she still has that one quality that hasn’t left her, her ability to paint, and even though not in the ring her ability to fight. Whether it is the financial fight since Katie cannot work due to the injuries sustained that night or fighting to find reason for her life, she continues to fight, and to find peace while the fight continues on.
In the last installment of this story Katie talks about her artwork, her financial situation as well as her feelings towards all that were involved in her situation, enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: Before the fight you were able to work and now you aren’t capable of holding down a job, so how about your finances, how do you make ends meet and survive financially?
Katie Dallam: Well, I am on long-term disability, which is not a lot of money, and I am also on social security so you know it is not a lot of money. But you know I tried to return to work but my problem is that I am not nonfunctional but the part of my brain that got messed up is the left side which controls the ability to put two and two together and figure the basics out. The side that is together keeps my ability to paint which is wonderful, but, the other side is what kind of gets you to figure out that I have to go somewhere and here's what I need to do, that side is gone. So I have a very hard time trying to organize myself to just get out of the house and do anything. It is like I go into an overdrive and get confused and out of touch with reality very quickly because I don’t have what it takes to do those things. What I am trying to say is that I cannot handle too much information at one time.
BH: Your paintings, let talk about those for a bit. I have seen your paintings on your website and before they seemed colorful, bright, you know those fluffy little nice colors. And now, the art after your bout to be honest with you they are very dark. I am not a painter so I don’t know how you guys work but why is that, is that all you feel, can you please explain?
KD: (Laughs) That is what I feel, inside of me can get very dark. When you almost die and like I said I thought I was on the other side so being there and coming back to be in a body that is pretty much damn beat up and painful and things aren’t working. I had everything going for me before the fight; I had my master’s degree and everything and all of a sudden everything was ripped away from me in a few seconds, all of a sudden I was like two years old again, that is how I felt. My ability to reason was completely gone, and my sister can tell you I couldn’t do anything for myself, I was like a kid. I was in this complete mess but I was aware that I was a complete mess and that my life was different before. It was weird, it was very hard I was very angry and upset, it has been hard to work through it, I go through periods of depression wondering why I lived for, why am I still here, why did I live through this. I feel like that a lot of the times and it is hard to explain. When I paint I feel ok, I feel whole, I feel like I am myself and I am real and what I have to say comes out completely and I feel like that is the only place I am really real.
BH: Honestly, do you harbor any harsh feelings towards anybody that was involved that night, the referee, Sumya or anybody?
KD: I really can’t harbor hard feelings towards the referee but my coach wasn’t very with it, he was a little out there. They say when I was hurt and passed out on the back he didn’t seem to really understand that I was hurt. He didn’t seem to be working very hard to stop the next fight so that I could get help. I wish I had had a coach that was more aware of things, I didn’t realize. I only worked with him for only a few weeks for this fight and he set up this fight. I was very nervous about this fight. Sumya was doing what her trainer told her what to do so I really can’t blame her, obviously she is a good fighter and she has gotten pretty far.
BH: Million Dollar Baby was a boxing movie about a woman who got injured in the ring, when you seen it the movie did it bring back a lot of memories.
KD: You know it was really weird, what it did was bring back some memories but it was also like…somehow in all of this I just didn’t want to think about the fight because I was really blaming myself…like I must really be a bad fighter or something, I just didn’t want to think about it or just couldn’t deal with it whatever. And then I saw the movie and in the movie she gets hurt really bad but in the movie she is a really good fighter, she’s getting wins and stuff and she has a good trainer and he is really in her corner and he is really trying to help her. I thought to myself that could happen to anybody, so I guess it made me realize that I wasn’t the only one that this could happen too. I guess I have kind of been beating myself up eternally over the whole thing if that makes any sense.
BH: Are you happy with life now, have you found peace?
KD: Hmm, I have tried too. (Laughs) You know, it has been very good for me to realize that this could have happened to anybody and I am happier with life now that some people are interested with what happened. I am still struggling with trying to figure out how to proceed with what I have left, that is something that is ongoing.
BH: If anybody could learn anything or take anything from your story what would you want it to be?
KD: Well I would want them to learn like in the boxing first of all they need to know their trainer and to know him well, like I said my trainer was convinced I was going to win the fight. Sumya doesn’t fight normal, like most women fight and that doesn’t mean you will beat her, that means you are probably going to lose and she is obviously pretty good with how far she has come. But he was looking at this all wrong. He wasn’t a very good judge of character; I didn’t know anything of him or about him, which I don’t recommend for anybody. He just didn’t seem very with it; so I would say that you have to have a trainer that you trust and you know would be the number one thing. Another thing would to be sure that you are ready to fight. The first women’s boxing match I saw nobody got hurt and it was no big deal and I thought it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I was not at all prepared.
BH: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview or say in closing?
KD: Well, I just want to say that I don’t blame her; I think Sumya was doing what she was told to do.
Since I conducted the first interview with Katie and put her story out for the readers I have received many emails on her situation. There have been reports that Katie was involved in a car accident the night before her fight with Sumya and sustained head injuries. A lot of readers asked the question, was Katie hurt before the fight, did her bout with Anani aggravate an existing injury and add to the severity? Sumya herself had this to say on that topic a year ago when she spoke to the Doghouse, “Also the night before the fight she drove home with her trainer and was involved in a car accident. She must have got some internal bleeding. For something like that to happen and then fight is crazy.” So I asked Stephanie, Katie’s sister who has been with her since day one to respond to the reports that Katie was injured prior to her bout against Anani and this was what Stephanie had to say to the Doghouse:
I am not surprised you are getting this type of response from some people. It is like coming from Anani and her followers.
Katie was in a low speed fender-bender the night before the fight. Katie had on her seat belt and didn’t receive any injuries. The car she was driving was hit on the passenger side. Her trainer (a very old man in his late 60s from what I remember) was in the passenger seat. He didn’t have on a seat belt and did hit his head. The car itself was barely damaged and Katie drove it away from the accident after the police wrote up their report. The other driver was found to be at fault.
Katie never hit her head or had so much as a scratch. She was certainly not covered in blood. We have a copy of the police report, which notes no injuries on Katie’s part. In addition, I met up with Katie right after the accident. I am an experienced ICU nurse and nurse practitioner with 10 years experience in caring for people with traumatic head injuries. Katie didn’t have any injuries. If she had even a hint of an injury, she would have had to fight me before going into the ring the next night.
Anani knows this. She has admitted she has no knowledge of the accident and no knowledge of what the neurosurgeon found when he opened Katie’s head. I do, and I have shared with her these details including the fact the neurosurgeon told me that the injury Katie received is very rare and requires a lot of force to cause. It is not consistent with a fender bender with a blow to the head. It is, however, consistent with being hit on either side of the head in rapid succession (Anani’s MO) and forcing the brain to bounce back and forth. This can place shear on the major vein until it ruptures this is what he found inside Katie’s brain. The major vein in her brain was shredded. A single blow could not cause this and as I said, Katie never bumped her head in the accident. Moreover, Dateline investigated the car accident and talked to the neurosurgeon. They were satisfied that Katie was not hurt before the fight.
We have told Anani that we don’t blame her for the accident and hold no hard feelings. We have, however, asked her to stop promulgating false information about Katie’s injury. Unfortunately, it appears that Anani continues to put this misinformation.
In addition, Katie never lied about her age, though it is quite possible that her trainer did. Katie doesn’t remember what he said. The newspapers had no real information on Katie to go on because at a news conference the day before the fight, the reporters all talked to Anani, but never interviewed much less acknowledged Katie’s presence despite the fact that she was sitting at the same table. In addition, Katie’s name was never on the bill. This is why no one knew anything about who she was after she was injured. It was too late to interview her then.
I can’t remember what else people are saying, but it is mainly mean spirited and not something I can do much about.
Thanks for asking me about this, I am happy to provide a response if you want me to.
Stephanie Dallam, RN, MSN, FNP
I would like to thank Stephanie and Katie Dallam for their time and thoughts on this situation. For more info on Katie or to buy her paintings, which could seriously help out Katie’s financial situation, please visit: http://kddallam.com/index.html
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