Ex-world champion Ricky Hatton says he tried to kill himself on several occasions in a battle with depression.
The Briton also talked about the need for boxers to get more help after retiring, when he appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today show, guest edited by Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams.
“I tried to kill myself several times,” said Hatton, 38, who retired in 2012.
“I used to go to the pub, come back, take the knife out and sit there in the dark crying hysterically.”
Manchester’s Hatton, who previously spoke to the BBC in 2011 about attempted suicide and depression, won the world light-welterweight and welterweight titles.
Hatton was stripped of his licence to box in 2010 after admitting using cocaine and retired the next year before fighting once more. He is now a promoter and trainer.
He continued: “There were times when I hadn’t had a drink for days and I’d still come home and if something went through my mind I’d start pondering something. It was the same outcome whether I was having a drink or wasn’t having a drink.
“But in the end I thought I’ll end up drinking myself to death because I was so miserable.
“I was coming off the rails with my drinking and that led to drugs. It was like a runaway train.”
‘More should be done to help boxers’
Former world champion Barry McGuigan told BBC Radio 5 live in October that boxing authorities should fund a new foundation to help fighters with mental health issues.
And Hatton feels “more should be done for boxers” with depression, with ex-world champions Tyson Fury and Frank Bruno among other Britons to have suffered with the illness.
“Footballers have an agent who looks out for them and a football club that gets behind them. The Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) can also be there,” added Hatton.
“Whereas boxers, it’s like once your time has gone it’s ‘on your way’ and move on to the next champion coming through.
“The thing is with boxers, we don’t come from Cambridge and places like that, we come from council estates. So in boxing it’s very, very hard. If boxing had a professional boxing association or something like that, I think it would be a better place.
“It seems to be happening more with boxers. It’s an individual sport so you get in the ring on your own and then when you retire you tend to spend the rest of your life on your own.”
His call was echoed by former British, Commonwealth and European light-middleweight champion Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham, who suffered from depression and contemplated suicide after his boxing career.
“When retirement comes around, boxers go into panic mode. The next thing you know, people are taking their life over a situation which could have been sorted for them, by a union or something like that,” he told 5 live.
‘What Fury said was heartbreaking’
Fury vacated his WBO and WBA world heavyweight titles in October to deal with his “medical treatment and recovery”.
The Briton, 28, admitted taking cocaine to deal with depression and has not fought since beating Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015.
Hatton said he contacted Fury to see if he was all right but said he never got a reply.
“Tyson is a very complex person. When he said what he said it was heartbreaking,” added Hatton.
“To think Tyson had become the heavyweight champion of the world and should kick on with his life and his career and for it to go pear-shaped was a real crying shame.
“Having said that, he doesn’t help himself in some interviews. If he is in a bad place and is depressed, I hope he’s speaking to the right people in order to sort it out.
“As boxers we don’t do that. We think, ‘I’m Ricky Hatton or I’m Tyson Fury, I can take on the world’. You can take on the world in the ring but this problem called depression, you can’t take it on.
“We’re out of our comfort zones with depression. I certainly was and whenever I have bad days now I speak to someone to get it off my chest. I have no shame telling that and that’s why I’m here today.”
- If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123.