HAVE you ever tweeted a boxer, or anyone in the public eye before and told them they were “rubbish” or given them any sort of negativity? I know a lot of people have and they think it is fine.
I want to talk about the worst moment of my boxing career, this was when I was walking to the referee after the sixth and final round of one of my fights, expecting him to raise my hand, only to be told I had two more rounds to fight.
Back in 2011, I was due to fight tough journeyman Michal Banbula in my eighth professional fight. This was going to be my first eight-round fight. Unfortunately, six weeks before I was due to fight I picked up a bad injury on my left elbow and bicep, meaning I couldn’t punch.
I was the main attraction, the big ticket-seller. I said there no chance of me fighting – I’d never boxed eight rounds before. My promoter told me he needed me on the card so he would put the fight down to a six-rounder. I spoke with my coach, Bobby Rimmer and we decided we would do it as I knew I could get through six rounds without sparring in training.
So I fought and won the first four or five rounds and maybe drew the sixth. In the sixth round I was tired as I had put everything into it and I walked to the ref after the bell for him to raise my arm, but it was then when he looked shocked, sent me back to my corner and told me I had two more rounds to go.
My coach raged at the ref explaining it was a six-round fight. By this time, I was exhausted and mentally shot as I’d put everything into that last round. It’s kind of like running a six-mile run and in the final mile, you give it everything you have got. You then get to the finish line and you’re told: “Come on you have two miles left”. This broke me.
My opponent knew it was an eight-round fight, TV knew it was an eight-rounder; the only people who didn’t seem to know was me, my coach and my friends at ringside.
I got pretty beat up during the next two rounds. I was spitting my mouthguard out trying to get a rest and was being shoved to the floor. My face was covered in blood as I had two big cuts – I just wanted to hear that bell. The bell went and the ref scored the fight a draw. At the level I was at, it may as well have been a loss for me and a win for my opponent.
I went back to the changing rooms after the fight and was lying on the floor throwing up with exhaustion. My head was pounding and it was horrible. I asked Frank Maloney, my promoter, “What the f*** was that?!” He replied that he didn’t know what happened.
After this, I fell out of love with the sport that I had competed in since I was a 10-year-old boy. I could have been seriously hurt in this fight and couldn’t trust anyone in the sport apart from my manager, who was my dad, and my coach. Also, in Banbula’s future fights, he failed a drugs test too and was banned from the sport.
After this fight, I received so much criticism. I mean, there were thousands of tweets with people telling me I was terrible and would never do anything in boxing. Chat forums were totally abusing me, it was heart-breaking. I started the sport as a 10-year-old to keep me off the streets and I loved boxing. It was all I really knew, but this sort of mental abuse took an effect on me. I don’t care what you do, whether you’re a writer, a builder or a chef if you’re doing a job you love and thousands of people tell you that you’re rubbish at it, calling you all the names under the sun, it does affect you. At the end of the day, I was just like a chef or a builder, but I did my job live on TV in front of millions of people – and with this, no one ever warned me or mentioned that I’d get lots of sh*t if I wasn’t perfect.
When people are in the public eye, the public doesn’t look at them as real people, with real feelings and emotions. Just because someone is on TV doesn’t mean they loaded, and they don’t read what you say.
If you wouldn’t say it to their face don’t tweet it, that’s the kind of thing cowards do.
Eventually, when I got over that hard time in my life and it made me a stronger human being and a better man, but I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone, and I would never criticize anyone because of this experience.
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