Friday 24 January 2020

'I knew something was wrong when I saw my brother on the floor' - Brother of Joao Carvalho in emotional first interview since Portuguese fighter's death

Alex Silvestre speaks in the first interview since his brother Joao Carvalho's death (PHOTO: RTE Primetime)
Alex Silvestre speaks in the first interview since his brother Joao Carvalho's death (PHOTO: RTE Primetime)
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

The brother of Joao Carvalho, the Portuguese fighter who died last week after his MMA bout in Dublin, said he knew something was "wrong" when he saw his brother on the floor.

The tragic Portuguese welterweight died of head injuries after an MMA bout last week with Irish fighter Charlie Ward.

Carvalho received nine successive blows to the head during the Total Extreme Fighting (TEF) clash at the National Stadium last Saturday week.

He was rushed to Beaumont Hospital within 20 minutes of the fight ending, but died on Monday night.

Post-mortem tests have not yet been completed, and it is not known when the remains will be released by the Coroner Service.

Alex Silvestre became emotional as he described how he texted his brother after the fight, and then received a call from Beaumont Hospital to say it was not good news.

Tragic fighter Joao Carvalho. Photo:
Tragic fighter Joao Carvalho. Photo:

Speaking to RTE's Primetime, Mr Silvestre said he was watching the fight on his mobile phone at his home in the UK.

"I am very worried about the boy when the referee stopped the fight, because I saw my brother on the floor," he said.

"I knew something was wrong with my brother at this moment.

"I see him this minute get up and start to walk normally. I saw my brother coming outside the cage."

Alex Silvestre speaks in the first interview since his brother Joao Carvalho's death (PHOTO: RTE Primetime)
Alex Silvestre speaks in the first interview since his brother Joao Carvalho's death (PHOTO: RTE Primetime)

Mr Silvestre said he then texted his brother immediately after the fight to see if he was feeling okay.

"I still keep this message with me," he said.

“I wanted to know if everything is alright. He (Joao) worried all the time about texts to family and close friends.

"Always a few minutes after [a fight] he texts everyone 'I’m alright', but not this time...I still wait for this answer."

He then told the programme how Joao’s coach phoned him to speak to the doctor at Beaumont.

"I know something wrong happened because it's not normal.

"A few minutes after I receive a phone call from Beaumont Hospital. He did not have good news for me. He told me all the time the truth."

In the family's first interview since Carvalho's death, Alex Silvestre described how he immediately flew from the UK to Dublin to be at his younger brother's bedside.

"It only takes 55 minutes to fly. I try to think to myself all the time 'calm down, something happened but everything will be sorted. He will be back home soon', maybe with some problems because I listen from the doctors that its very, very, very serious damage. But you try to keep your hope up.

“When I see my brother on his bed I know its very serious," he continued.

“On Monday when the doctor come to speak with us about doing some final test for my brother, I’m scared because I start to think I have lost my boy.

"A first test was carried out but he’s still the same. No reaction or nothing, you know.

"Before a second test was carried out, I was told 'if he not react, am so sorry, there is nothing more I can do for your brother'.

“I know the second test just confirms that which everyone knows now. At this moment I know and realise my brother is not with me anymore.”

The family are still waiting to return Carvalho's remains to his family in Portugal.

“I don’t know whats happened. No-one gives us answers. It's nine days. It's too much. I want to go home and take my brother with me, to give rest to him and everyone, you know.

“My brother comes from a different country. He’s here in Ireland no-one cares about anything.

“No-one comes to us to ask whats happened. No-one comes to us to give any explanation to say 'you’ll stay here with your brother for one or two weeks more'.

“I’ll not accept this because it's nine days past. I want some answers. I need it. I want to take him home to bury him."

He also recalled how his younger brother wanted to be a fighter from a young boy.

"He have dream for a long time to fight, from a small boy, all the time in school," he said.

"One day he think this is what he will do for his life. He lived for this fight. He loved this fight. This was my brother's life."

Online Editors

The Left Wing: Schools rugby special - 'The St Michael’s dream team are the side to beat'

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport