Champion boxer’s dreams left in tatters after descent into alcohol addiction

A Former boxing champion threw away a glittering career in the ring after losing his battle with the bottle.

Russell Pearce, 33, realised he could fund his drinking by taking fights.

After finding out he got paid the same amount of money for losing as winning he agreed to take on all comers so he could spend his earnings on booze.

He said: "Pretty soon my boxing career had strayed from national champion status to getting hurt fighting for money just to fund my habit.

"I won my first fight, then lost my second and was still paid the same amount of money as I did when I won. I realised I could do nothing and still get paid between £800 and £1,000 per fight.”

The-dad-of-one, from Welshpool, started boxing at six, professionally at 18, won a British Championship fight and began representing Wales.

But what started as a few casual pints with mates spiralled into alcohol addiction.

"I got to that age where drinking was introduced and I was drinking too much and much faster than my mates. I would be the one going home more drunk than the others," he admitted.

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“It was a slippery slope. Before I knew it I was relying on alcohol to feel I belonged – to be outgoing, funny, one of the lads – it just got worse from there.”

Drink took over his life, leaving him alone and desperate.

Russell hit rock bottom when he could no longer afford to sustain his lifestyle an began stealing alcohol.

He said: "All your money runs out and your friends slowly diminish and all you are left with is you alone in your flat with no money.

"I had that career as a youngster, to sitting in my flat alone finishing off one to two bottles of vodka – I spent a good two and a half years drinking that way.

“Things came to a head when I got into trouble with the police for shoplifting."

Now the former Welsh Boxing Champion has now picked himself up and dedicated his life to helping others on the road to recovery.

The former fighter is now employed at drug and alcohol charity Kaleidoscope, where he supports recovering alcoholics from relapsing.

Since joining its recovery programme in 2017, he has now been alcohol free for two and a half years.

"It's one thing getting sober for the first month, but dealing with life afterwards is what can be a struggle,” he confessed.

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"The day to day life, like when you walk into a supermarket, often the first thing you'll see is a pyramid of alcohol on offer.

"I've always been pretty open with it – if you don't tell people you're struggling with it, people try and get you to have a drink.

"I have been to parties in the last two years where people have put alcohol right in front of me, but I'm pretty good at resisting.

“Now I’m a better father, husband, brother and son.

"I want people to know that addiction can grip anyone, from any background. But, there is support out there, walk through our doors and you’ll be greeted with a warm smile and a cuppa."

And he's moving mountains to help those struggling with alcohol dependency – and raise money for the charity that helped turn his life around.

He’s climbing the three highest peaks in Yorkshire – Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Inglebrough – alongside his wife Charlotte Pearce, over a distance of roughly 24 miles on May 30, 2020.

Funds raised will be used to buy boxing equipment for young people and service users to enjoy at Kaleidoscope’s Welshpool Hub.

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He added: "I think Britain is struggling quite a lot with drinking, it's a massive part of the culture whether it is celebration or bereavement.

"A lot of people think sobriety is boring, but doing something active can bring fun into it, which is why I want to raise money and get sports equipment for the charity."

Caroline Harding, Team Leader at Kaleidoscope Powys, said: “We couldn’t ask for a better member of our team and wish Russell the best of luck with the challenge.

“He’s moved through recovery to become the best version of himself, and the support he gives service users facing similar challenges is invaluable. We can’t wait to see where the next steps in his journey lead him.”

If you would like to support the work of Kaleidoscope, you can donate via Russell’s Givey page here:

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