Drink, drugs, depression, sex scandals, financial meltdowns and serious health issues are just some of the fights British boxers have faced once they’ve quit the ring. A Champion’s Last Fight examines just why and exactly how some of Britain’s greatest boxers have self-destructed in retirement.
It tells the stories of former world champions who have struggled in life away from the spotlights and the glare that comes with boxing success; delving into the post-boxing lives and tribulations of Benny Lynch, Randolph Turpin, Freddie Mills, Ken Buchanan, John Conteh, Alan Minter, Charlie Magri, Frank Bruno, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Naseem Hamed, Scott Harrison, Herbie Hide, Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton.
With interviews and new revelations, A Champion’s Last Fight is an emotional journey through boxing history that examines the struggles many former champions experience after hanging up the gloves – and asks what, if anything, can be done to help the nation’s boxing greats adjust to life away from the ring?
New research and interviews tell the tales of the following fighters, among others…
Benny Lynch, who died 70 years ago this August, spectacularly and swiftly fell from grace following his days as world flyweight champion. His son Bobby gives his version on the circumstances around his father’s death and research uncovers the full extent of Lynch’s troubles in the few years following his boxing career and death.
Randolph Turpin, who died 50 years ago in May, pulled off one of the best wins in British boxing history when he out-pointed Sugar Ray Robinson, yet felt threatened and betrayed before his death. Letters written by Turpin – which along with his suicide note are published for the first time – reveal who the former world middleweight champion blamed for his death. Turpin’s daughter Carmen, the only witness to her father’s death, also explains why she believes her father was murdered.
Freddie Mills also died in the sixties after being a popular world light-heavyweight champion. Police found it to be suicide but there have been various other theories, and stepson Don McCorkindale gives his opinion on how Mills came to be shot in the eye down a London alleyway.
John Conteh and Ken Buchanan talk candidly about their struggles with alcoholism. Buchanan also discusses his health and financial problems as well as being sexually assaulted.
Charlie Magri describes what it is like to be working for the council as he approached retirement age while Chris Eubank and so many more ex-champions have ended up bankrupt after earning a fortune in the ring.
Naseem Hamed talks about his prison experience while others such as Scott Harrison have also recently been jailed.
Frank Bruno has suffered from bipolar disorder since retirement and others have also experienced problems with depression, such as Ricky Hatton. Adjusting to life without boxing can lead to depression, but repetitive blows to the head can result in the brain disorder chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Experts on brain injury explain the danger and inevitability of CTE for boxers and how their lives can change in retirement from the sport.
Ricky Hatton, Barry McGuigan and others discuss what can be done to help former boxers in retirement. Nearly half of all Britain’s world champions from 1945 to 2012 have suffered various problems in retirement.
A CHAMPION’S LAST FIGHT – The Struggle with Life After Boxing By Nick Parkinson is available now