Harry Carpenter, the BBC's legendary boxing commentator, died after falling down stairs and suffering a 'catastrophic head' injury, his inquest was told today.
He was the voice of the BBC's boxing coverage for nearly 50 years, becoming the subject of Frank Bruno's 'Know what I mean, 'arry?' catchprase in the 1980s.
It emerged today he suffered an acute heart attack just before falling at his home in Sydenham, South-East London.
He suffered a 5in fracture to the skull and a severe brain haemorrhage. The 84-year-old was found lying on his back at the bottom of the stairs by his granddaughter Aurelie, who lived with him and his wife Phylis.
An inquest has ruled that veteran boxing commentator Harry Carpenter died as a result of 'catastrophic head injuries' from a fall at his home
Frank Bruno and Carpenter pretend to fight at the opening of a sports store in 1987 in Oxford Street. He was the voice of the BBC's boxing coverage for nearly 50 years, becoming the subject of Bruno's 'Know what I mean, 'arry?' catchprase in the 1980s
He was taken to Kings College hospital to be treated but died three days later.
The inquest heard Mr Carpenter, famous for his close relationships with heavyweights Mohammad Ali and Frank Bruno, already had heart problems after suffering a minor heart attack in the summer of 2009 and had recently undergone bypass surgery.
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His son Clive, who lives in France, told how his father had been hospitalised for eight days over Christmas last year due to further complications following his operation, but said he seemed to be feeling better.
But after a routine hospital check-up on March 17 this year he took a nap after feeling unwell and then fell down the stairs.
Old hand: Harry Carpenter interviews golf legend Jack Nicklaus after he triumphed in the 1978 British Open championship
Lennox Lewis stands alongside Harry when he awarded Muhammad Ali with the BBC's Sports Personality of the Century in 1999
Mr Carpenter's granddaughter Aurelie, said: 'He wasn't feeling well that day. I took him to the hospital for a check-up but he had trouble walking and had to take things really slow but he seemed to be fine after that.
'I picked him up later but by the time he got back to the house he was having difficulties getting out the car and couldn't quite walk properly.
'He said he felt unwell and he decided to go to bed for a bit.'
About half an hour later she said she heard him get up and start walking down the stairs.
She continued: 'Then I heard this noise. I went to him immediately and realised he had fallen. He was lying at the bottom of the stairs and was completely unconscious.
'He was still unconscious until just before the paramedics came. He tried to get up but I don't think he was quite aware of what he was doing. He didn't seem himself. He didn't even recognise me. He was behaving like he was in a nightmare. He seemed agitated and distressed.'
Paramedic Karen Carr, who arrived on the scene at 12.41pm, described the patient as 'combative' and said he would not remain still and kept trying to remove equipment as she tried to treat him.
Southwark Coroners Court heard Mr Carpenter was taken to Kings College Hospital where scans that revealed he had suffered a severe brain haemorrhage.
The inquest heard he could not be operated on because of his heart condition and the fact he had been on Warfarin, a blood thinning medication which could have made the bleed worse.
Top of his game: Harry Carpenter with the then world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson in 1989
Dr Greg Fellows, a specialist registrar at Kings College Hospital, said Mr Carpenter was later transferred to the high dependency unit.
The next day he began having difficulty breathing and it was felt he was not suitable for surgery.
He said: 'On the 20th of March I had a long chat with the family as it became clearer that despite our best efforts the patient's condition was deteriorating and he sadly passed away.'
A post-mortem examination revealed Mr Carpenter died from an extensive head injury caused by the bang on his head that left him with a 5in (13cm) fracture on his skull.
He also had a fractured rib, two black eyes and a cut to his shin.
Recording a verdict of accidental death Coroner Dr Adela Williams said it was the 'catastrophic head injury' that caused Mr Carpenter's death rather than the heart attack he suffered beforehand.
She said: 'On March 17 Mr Carpenter returned home after a visit to the hospital for a check up.
'When he returned home he felt quite seriously unwell and he decided to go to bed. He got up after half an hour. He was heard to fall down the stairs where he sustained a catastrophic head injury.
'What we have is a non-fatal heart attack but it was the result of the fall down the stairs that resulted in Mr Carpenter's death.'
Mr Carpenter was the BBC's voice-of-boxing for almost half a century after joining the broadcaster in 1949.
He commentated on thousands of professional and amateur boxing matches, his most famous being the 1974 'Rumble in the Jungle' clash between heavy weight George Foreman and Mohammed Ali.
He was a personal favourite of British champion Frank Bruno whose catchphrase 'Know what I mean, Arry?' was featured in many of his post-fight interviews.
Mr Carpenter, who was made an OBE in 1991, also hosted sporting events such as Wimbledon, the Boat Race and almost all boxing fights in the Olympics between 1956 and 1992.
He was also a presenter on Sportsnight and Grandstand and had the privilege of awarding Muhammad Ali with the BBC's Sports Personality of the Century in 1999.
George Foreman pins Muhammad Ali on the ropes during the 'Rumble in the Jungle' held in Zaire, present-day Congo. Harry Carpenter was on air for the bout which was sensationally won by Ali
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