Solihull teenage boxer loses leg as sore shins turns out to be a rare bone cancer

Ollie Hercombe
-Credit: (Image: Kerry Bolton/ SWNS)

A teenage boxer from Solihull lost his leg after a rare bone cancer was discovered when he was injured during a match. Ollie Hercombe, aged 16, has bee boxing since he was a child and has grew up fitness-conscious, training regularly at the gym.

In early 2022 he began suffering occasional discomfort in his right shin and a lump formed, which was put down to shin splints. The just ignored the soreness and continued going for five-mile runs and daily gym sessions. But on March 18, while sparring in the boxing gym, Ollie stepped back - and his right shin Snapped.

He was rushed to hospital and put into a leg cast - and an x-ray showed his leg snapped because he had a cancerous leg tumour. The options were a long, painful and risky operation to extract the cancer from his leg with a long recovery process, or an above-knee amputation, SWNS reports.

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The sports fanatic was desperate to get back on his feet - and decided an amputation would give him the best chance. The amputation went ahead on May 13 in a three-hour surgery, and now Ollie is raising £70k for a high-tech bionic limb so he can get back in the ring.

Ollie after the amputation with the top part of his leg in plaster, sitting on the side of a hospital bed
Ollie after the amputation -Credit:Kerry Bolton/ SWNS
Ollie Hercombe with Mum Kerry Bolton
Ollie Hercombe with Mum Kerry Bolton -Credit:Kerry Bolton/ SWNS

Ollie, from Smith's Wood, Solihull, West Midlands, said: "The pain after the leg broke was horrible. They gave me the options and I wanted to decide what was best for me to continue sport afterwards.

"Since the amputation I've had some dark days and nights - but I think I've handled it as well as I could. I know 100 per cent that I've made the right decision."

Mum Kerry Bolton, 45, a personal trainer, said: "He has been an active child from a very young age. He went on a five mile run the day before his leg broke.

"Ollie knew straight away if he had the amputation, he would be able to continue with boxing as well as there being less chance of the cancer reoccurring." Ollie was sparring in Acocks Green Boxing Gym on March 18.

One boxer stood up and another boxer on the ground
Ollie Hercombe after his leg snapped in the ring -Credit:Acocks gym /SWNS

Despite no physical contact being made against his leg, when he stepped back on it, his right shin snapped out of the blue. Doctors knew straight away that it broke too easily to just have been an impact break - and feared the worst.

He was rushed to Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham, and a scan revealed 'pitting' - weakness in the shin bone, which had caused the break. A biopsy was taken and the lad was put in a full leg cast.

Kerry said: "He had suffered with what we thought was shin splints. Over time now and again he would say his leg was a bit sore after a run or gym session, but that was all."

He went back to school using a wheelchair, until doctors called the family to let them know the results of a biopsy. It revealed he had a rare bone cancer, adamantinoma, which had been slowly weakening the bone over years.

The cancer was not treatable by chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy, leaving doctors with two options. They revealed they could extract the cancer and reconstruct the leg - a 14-hour surgery with the risk of the cancer returning as well as Ollie needing to wear a leg brace for 18 months.

The alternative was an above-knee amputation at Royal Orthopedic Hospital, Birmingham - which Ollie felt would get him back in the ring again far sooner. He said: "At the point of them explaining the decisions, I already had my mind set on amputation.

"And as soon as I knew the cancer had a chance of coming back if I kept the leg, I knew the leg had to go." On May 13, he went under the knife, having been assured his amputated limb would be donated to science to be used for further research into the condition.

Following the surgery Ollie struggled with the pain - and was "screaming, begging, hyperventilating". He said: "I had panic attacks - I thought I was going to die."

But over time he began to heal - and now he is looking towards how he can get back in the ring and boxing again. Ollie's research has led to him setting his heart on a state-of-the-art bionic limb made by Ottobock.

The Genium X3 would allow him to do sports, including his beloved boxing, and would be able to adapt to his movement. The family are trying to raise £70k to get him his very own leg - but they're only half way to the goal.

Ollie - who will sit his GCSEs later in the year when he's recovered - said: "It would mean the world to me to have this leg, I could do whatever everyone else can and more.

"I want to run marathons and I want to do all this stuff to raise money, it's inspired me. Losing my leg gave me a new gasp of wind, and I want to prove I can do whatever everyone else can do.

"I want to show people that losing a leg isn't the end of the world."

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