REAL PEOPLE, REAL STORIES

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Round Table Saved My Life
richard holland round table
Professional Boxer
richard holland round table
www.switch-up.org

Richard Holland

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As men, we too often think of ourselves as strong and in control of our emotions. Maybe a sense of “big boys don’t cry” keep our emotions under lock and key. When we feel hopeless or overwhelmed by despair we often deny it, even to ourselves. Yet depression is much more common than many first expect. It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in this last week experienced a common mental health problem.

Depression can take a heavy toll on all aspects of life, and as men we tend to try to tough it out. Richard Holland, Vice President of the National Association of Round Tables Great Britain and Ireland, an all male voluntary organisation that has been supporting men for 90 years, spoke about his own battle following the breakdown of his marriage and the support Round Table was able to provide in bringing him back to himself.

Over my many happy years in Round Table and most recently being on the road meeting members as National Vice President, I've learnt something special. It's a fact about Round Table that I know to be true because I have had personal experience of it. And this fact may not directly speak to you but I know that it will speak to someone you know.

What is it I learnt? That Round Table saved my life, when I was at the lowest point of my life. When I was at rock bottom, the Round Table community was there for me.

And this is my story.

A couple of years ago, I went through a pretty horrible separation from my ex-wife which ended in us getting divorced. It left me devastated.

I suffered terribly. And it took an overwhelming hold on my wellbeing. For the first time in my life, I felt vulnerable. For the first time in my life, I was scared for what the future held for me and for my children. For the first time in my life, I felt totally alone in the world.

I took on habits to cope. Late night partying with people I didn't know, drinking too much and an outlook on the world that was negative and bleak.

In short, I will share with you how deep it went - without Round Table I would not be here today.

But Table was there. The spirit, the fun, the opportunities, a reason to be involved in life again; it all lifted me. But it was something else more human and more touching that really helped. Others, that understood without prying, did not judge and did not seek to. It wasn’t counselling, but a connection with men from every type of background. I felt comfortable with Tablers, less scared, more confident. Through Table, I got my life back.

With an average of 12 men a day taking their own lives and suicide the biggest killer of men under 45, Round Table are proud to partner with the Men and Boy’s Coalition to directly draw attention to men’s issues and help more men like Richard.

Richard said: "Now I look back and my life is wonderful. My children are beautiful and I am in love again - my heart and mind repaired.

Round Table saved my life, as I know it has done for many other members of our incredible organisation. We not only help lift others through incredible fundraising activities, but we help lift ourselves - through fun, fellowship and community work. Some men don't need help in the same way as I did, but I believe every man needs opportunity and Round Table gives young men so much. Men are beginning to break down their traditional barriers of a stiff upper lip and leading this change is the greatest young man's club in the world - Round Table.”

Lee Froch

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Lee became a good friend of Marcus in 2008 and we have witness his development and determination from afar says Jones.

Marcus said “If there is ever a story to tell the Lee’s is one that you need to understand and read, giving hope for those who are battling aspects of life that Lee himself dealt with, he has become a friend along with Carl, two brothers who have helped the community in so many ways for which I am eternally grateful.”

Lee Froch revealed he’s fought off alcohol and gambling problems which developed during his brother Carl’s career to land a heavyweight boxing title fight this month.

Lee, older brother to the former four-time world champion, will bring boxing back to Nottingham Arena by taking on Richie ‘The Viking’ Leak on September 29.

Lee Froch has built his own name in the sport through an unbeaten run in unlicensed and semi-professional fights, and is going for the European Boxing Federation (EBF) English heavyweight title.

Carl is expected to be ringside to cheer on his brother for the fight, and told Notts TV the pair are not just close because of boxing.

He said: “To see ‘Return of the Froch’ on the poster, for me it’s surreal, my first world title was here, back in December 2008, and after that I boxed Lucian Bute, that was the biggest fight for me, I became three times world champion, in 2012.

Lee knows the belts and the dates better than me, because Lee was my number one fan. Lee lived a life through my life winning world titles."

Carl Froch said: “He was drinking and he was partying – he was living the lavish lifestyle that I wasn’t living, because of having to, not sacrifice, because it’s something I wanted to do, but I was leaving that aside – leaving that to Lee actually.”

Lee, who also learned to box as a boy in Gedling and sparred his brother, was a regular ringside at Carl’s fights and played a memorable part in the build-up to many bouts, particularly in the colourful war of words between camps ahead of the fights against George Groves in 2013 and 2014.

“I was drinking far too much that what I should have been drinking,” said Lee.

“I was also gambling a lot. I obviously had to go into sobriety. I do meetings, I do shares and it’s something I enjoy and I’m now helping others as well.

“So, yeah I had some problems with addiction, but I’ve put them to bed and now I’m two and a half years clean, and onwards and upwards with the boxing career.”

Carl added “To turn his life around, the way he has turned it around and to be now fighting at Nottingham Arena, I couldn’t be prouder, Lee’s proud of himself and his wife’s proud of him – but this is just the start of his journey

He refuses to quit – he’s such a fierce competitor, my brother. I just know he’s going to be successful when he boxes this Viking. He’s done it all on his own. He’s been though hell, he’s through it now, and now we can enjoy life.”

Marcellus Baz

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Marcus met “ Baz” Marcellus Baz in 2017 at The Ceo Sleepout for the homeless in Nottingham at the Nottingham County Ground. Marcus wrote "it was 6am in the morning and we had just come in from the freezing cold night raising awareness for the homeless, I sat down with a warm drink and Baz and I just started speaking, we realised with an hour we could help each other, the rest is history”.

Baz has battled many demons through his life, his story shows how dealing with life treating injuries and gang culture how he turned to help others.

Baz, whose hopes of a pro boxing career ended at 23 when he was stabbed through the hand by a rival gang member, won the BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero award in recognition of the free classes he provides to young people at his Nottingham School of Boxing.

He runs sessions at various venues across the city, but the St Ann's base he is set to leave is among his biggest with more than 50 young boxers attending sessions on Sundays.

Having seen his hopes of a professional boxing career ended at the age of 23 when he was stabbed through the hand by a rival gang member, Marcellus Baz could have carried on down the wrong path.

Instead, now 41, he provides free classes to hundreds of young people at his Nottingham School of Boxing, with some of his charges even harbouring dreams of reaching the Olympics.

His work has won him the BBC East Midlands Get Inspired Unsung Hero award for 2016, and he will now be among the finalists for the national competition, with the winner to be announced at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony on BBC One on Sunday, 18 December.

"I was brought up in an area of deprivation and my role models were people who were involved in crime. I got myself into gangs and I was going down the wrong pathway," he told BBC East Midlands Today.

"I've seen people like me who were lost and thought that they were stuck in this bubble where you've got a criminal record, so you can't get a job.

"You try to get a job, you can't get a job so you go back into crime again, this vicious circle. So I thought, you know what, I want to break this."

Baz, who was praised by the judging panel for his "immeasurable" impact on breaking the cycle of crime, commits 30 hours a week to provide boxing classes, transport to competitions, and to teach valuable life skills.

Having seen his career ended in a violent incident, he holds training sessions in areas with rival gangs to try to prevent more conflict.

"While I am working with them, I am integrating the young people with each other," he continued.

"By the time they get to an age where there could be conflict, they actually know each other.

"We are giving kids an opportunity to aspire to do phenomenal things."

Bryer Wheatley, who became English national champion in the Class B under-54kg category as a 16-year-old in 2014, is one of those the coach has helped.

"Baz has got me into college, got me a part-time job and really put me on the right track," he explained.

"I have even become a national boxing champion, and have aspirations of going to the Olympics one day.

"If it wasn't for Baz, my mum and dad would have thrown me out and I would have ended up in prison."