Whatever you are feeling, it is just temporary - Gill

4 months ago 167
Jordan Gill celebrates in the ringJordan Gill was a big underdog against Michael Conlan in Belfast

Warning: This article contains references to suicide and mental health issues.

At 11.15pm on 2 December, referee Howard Foster called a halt to a fight between Jordan Gill and Michael Conlan in round seven.

Gill had just overpowered and overwhelmed Conlan in Belfast.

It was the biggest win of his career. But little did we know, Gill was battling with something much bigger than boxing.

"On 30 June I was in a field, I drank a litre of vodka, and I was going to kill myself," the Briton announced to the crowd.

Boxing is a sport known for its toughness, resilience and bravery, but the 29-year-old took a bold step by opening up about his personal struggle with mental health.

Following a crushing loss to Kiko Martinez last year, Gill silently carried the weight of his struggles with anxiety and depression.

"I lost my fight to Martinez and spent a few months at home after that fight, but I was a little bit lost," Gill told BBC Sport.

"I didn't have anything to get out of bed for and I was spiralling out of control."

'Leigh Wood knew I was lost'

As well as the weight of the loss, Gill's relationship with his wife had completely soured and he also parted ways with long-time trainer Dave Coldwell.

"Being in Sheffield for 10 years as a professional put a strain on my relationship, so I broke up with my wife, I didn't have a trainer, I didn't have a coach and I just became a little bit delusional with the world. I just didn't want to be here any more," Gill said.

Hall of Fame my greatest honour - Couch

Gill seemingly reached the point of no return in June, when he was found in a field, having attempted suicide.

It was at this point that Gill sought help from his long-time friend and WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood, who was preparing for his title fight with Josh Warrington.

"I reached out to my best mate Leigh Wood. We lived together for about six or seven years in Sheffield," Gill said.

"He knew I was a little bit lost and that I needed help. He got the feeling something wasn't right.

"He was out at a training camp in July in Fuerteventura. He asked me to come out and I'm glad he did."

After spending time with Wood, Gill could feel the tide turning.

He hired a new trainer in Barry Smith and displayed a new-look fighting style against Conlan, where he was on the front foot.

Gill credits Wood with getting him "back on track".

"Leigh and I are like brothers. We've spent that much time together, he wants me to succeed, I want him to succeed," Gill said.

"I'd go to the end of the world for him and I'm sure he would for me. It's been amazing to see his success."

'Whatever you are feeling, it is just temporary'

Jordan Gill (L) and Leigh Wood backstage after Gill's fightGill was supported by Leigh Wood, who travelled to Belfast for the fight against Conlan

Gill has now opened a gym near his hometown in Cambridgeshire and hopes to encourage others to prioritise their mental health.

"My message to people who are struggling is these feelings, whatever you are going through, whatever you are feeling, it is just temporary," he said.

"You can make positive change in your life, whether it's going to the gym, eating a bit cleaner or going for a walk in the morning. Better times are only around the corner."

It's been a long and turbulent 14 months outside of boxing, but Gill marked his return to the squared circle with a stunning stoppage win over Conlan.

For the Chatteris boxer, a heavy underdog against the Belfast fighter, it was a 28th victory in 31 professional bouts.

Now plying his trade as a super-featherweight after making the jump from featherweight, Gill hopes to make history by becoming the first Sikh to win a major world champion.

"That's the heritage, my dad is Indian - my dad's family are Sikh," Gill said.

"I'm not a practising Sikh but I go to the gurdwara [place of worship], weddings and that sort of thing.

"To be the first world champion from an Indian heritage would be a proud achievement."

"My eyes are set on a world title. I want to win one," he added.

"I've been Commonwealth, European champion, I've won three WBA internationals and to not fight for a world title, I think I would be very disappointed at the end of my career if I didn't."

If you have, or someone you know has, been affected by any issues raised in this article, support and information is available at BBC Action Line. You can also contact the Samaritans on a free helpline 116 123, or visit the website.external-link

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