Former boxing world champion, Ricky Hatton, has revealed how he battled back from attempted suicide in a reveal-all interview with RLWC2021 and Movember, designed to promote the importance of positive mental fitness. 

In an extended interview, the likeable Mancunian confesses how he knew he was beaten before stepping into the ring for a world title shot with Manny Pacquiao and experienced a rollercoaster of emotions following his loss to Floyd Mayweather, which led to his life spiralling out of control. 

The interview, airing during Mental Health Awareness Week, is the first in the RLWC2021 x Movember: Mental Fitness mini-series, which aims to offer an insight into why positive wellbeing is important for everyone, not just elite level sportspeople supporting the partnership between Movember and the RLWC2021, who launched its Mental Fitness Charter earlier this year.

The charter details how RLWC2021 aims to educate every player, team official, match official, teammate and volunteer to look after their own mental fitness and of those around them, as well as delivering mental fitness workshops to 8,000 young Rugby League players and their parents in the build-up to and during next year’s tournament. 

In the interview, which was conducted by sports presenter, Simon Thomas, Ricky explained: “Whether it’s problems with injury or mental health, prevention is better than cure, so I commend the work that Rugby League World Cup is doing and hopefully other sports can take it on board too.”

And it is initiatives, such as these, which would’ve helped to give Ricky the prevention he needed to cope with his own darkest hours. After losing to Floyd Mayweather at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, things began to unravel for the champion still idolised by millions around the world: “I went over there [to Las Vegas] not just for my biggest pay day but because I was going to beat him. So, when I didn’t, I had to cancel all of my engagements, I couldn’t walk down the street and I thought people were laughing at me. I split up with my trainer, Billy Graham, I was at an all-time low.” 

The road to redemption came for the Hitman when his second child, Millie, was on the way: “I went to see a psychiatrist and got down on my knees, begged him to help and asked him what I need to do. 

“As a result, this is now the best I’ve ever been - I’ve made up with my mum and dad, made up with Billy, I’ve got three wonderful kids and a grandchild - so if I hadn’t have got off my backside and gone and spoke to someone, look at all of these good things I would’ve missed out on.”

Even now, however, Ricky admitted things aren’t always easy: “You still have your bad days. What I find helps me is getting to the gym, going to do a workout, going for a walk, so I’d always encourage people to speak to someone. If you have a problem and speak about it, I think people respect you more.

“But in any sport, the mental side is just as important as the physical side, and that’s why I commend the work Rugby League World Cup is doing. Hopefully other sports take it on board and we can move forward in a positive way together.”

The series, which will feature interviews from two other sporting legends, is part of the work being done by RLWC2021, Movember and Rugby League Cares to help instigate better mental fitness throughout the Rugby League family in the build up to next year’s tournament. 

Movember, the leading global charity changing the face of men’s health, will use its vast expertise in the field to deliver its ‘Ahead of the Game’ initiative, a programme which is focused on improving youth mental fitness through community sport. 

Working with community Rugby League clubs across the country, ‘Ahead of the Game’ has the aim of improving mental resilience in adolescent athletes and raising mental fitness literacy and awareness among players, parents and coaches. 

Tracy Herd, Ahead of the Game Programme Manager at Movember says, “We want to thank Ricky for being so open and honest about his struggles. It's really important for young men to see that there is no weakness in reaching out if you are struggling. We are confident that that the Ahead of the Game programme will equip young men with the skills they need to succeed and improve their mental fitness, whether as an athlete or as they go through life.”

If you’ve been affected by anything you’ve read, there is more information on what guidance and help is available at movember.com.

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