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MMA’s Winkeljohn Loses Sight in One Eye

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Coach Sliced By Fighter’s Toenail

A freak accident in the gym has cost Albuquerque martial-arts coach and boxing trainer Mike Winkeljohn the sight in his right eye.

Winkeljohn is perhaps equally well known as boxer Holly Holm’s trainer and as the stand-up coach for many top-ranked mixed-martial-arts fighters. He said he expects to be fine eventually and to be able perform all the tasks he did before the injury.

“For a while I’ll be down one eye, and I’ll probably wear eye protection,” he said Thursday. “But next year I’ll be in line for a corneal transplant and they’ll put a new one in and hopefully I’ll be able to see (out of the damaged eye) again.”

Winkeljohn said he was working with one of his fighters on Sept. 23 when he got kicked in the eye. The fighter’s toenail, he said, “went through my eyeball and sliced it quite deep.”

He underwent emergency surgery, during which it was found that the cornea and lens were essentially destroyed.

“I’ve got 22 stitches across my cornea, and now it’s just a matter of not letting it get infected,” he said.

Winkeljohn said he’ll undergo more surgery to help guard against glaucoma. “But if everything stays OK, then next year, hopefully, God willing, they’ll give me a new cornea and a new lens.

“It sucks, but I’m getting through it.”

Winkeljohn is a longtime martial-arts coach who, with fellow Albuquerquean Greg Jackson, runs one of the most successful MMA gyms in the world.

As a boxing trainer, he has guided Holm to a 25-1-3 record and world titles in three different weight classes.