Jordan Gill: ‘Return to boxing took me out of a downward spiral’ – The Guardian

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Jordan Gill – Photo: Facebook

By Donald McRae | The Guardian | Britain |

On 30 June last year Jordan Gill drank a litre of vodka in a field in Cambridgeshire as he contemplated ending his life. It was the night before he turned 29 and earlier that Friday morning it had been, in his own words, “just a normal, sunny day. I woke up and didn’t know what to do with myself”.

We sit a foot apart on a very different Friday morning in a boxing gym in Harlow. Apart from a few weights and pieces of apparatus, the room is empty. Gill and Zelfa Barrett step into the ring for a compelling super-featherweight contest in Manchester on Saturday night. But, now, he pauses before going back into the darkness and despair.

He is an intelligent man, who was offered a place to study at some of the UK’s most prestigious universities, and it feels briefly invasive to revisit such distressing memories. Gill, who has a Sikh heritage, would love to become the first fighter of Indian ancestry to win a world title as a professional boxer. I’ve thought that he is a special fighter ever since I saw him win the European featherweight title after an unforgettable battle against Karim Guerfi in February 2022. Knocked down heavily in the seventh round, with his face swollen and barely able to move his legs, Gill produced a stunning knockout in the ninth.

I ask if he minds talking about that terrible night last summer. “No, it’s all right,” Gill says. “I live in Chatteris but I was spending time with a girl in Ramsey, which is nearby. Everything just hit me. I’d lost my European title [in a shock defeat to the veteran Kiko Martínez in October 2022], split up with my wife and things weren’t good. I’m getting an earful from the girl I’m seeing, I’m not training, not eating well, not feeling good. I’ve got no trainer, no promoter, no manager, no prospects of a fight. I hadn’t got anything to show for my career apart from a few shiny belts. And I’m 29 tomorrow. So it hit me like a ton of bricks.”

Gill looks up as the blurring memories tumble through him. “I had an argument with this girl and with my wife and I took myself away. I’d got a litre of vodka and I almost drank the whole bottle neat, slumped at the side of a tree. I’d never touched alcohol until a month before. I started drinking to have a good time but, deep down, it was to numb the stress and the pain.”

The vodka just made Gill “more sad. My phone kept ringing but I wouldn’t answer”. Gill nods when I ask if it was then that he considered taking his life. “Yeah. 100%” He was fortunate that his former girlfriend had his location on her phone. “She came and found me,” Gill says. “I remember seeing her but feeling numb. It was a mile’s walk to the car park and she had to almost carry me the whole way. I couldn’t walk.”

He knocked out Michael Conlan in a riveting display of skill and power just over five months later and, after that victory in his opponent’s home city of Belfast, Gill spoke with raw emotion. “I’ve had a hard year,” he told the stunned crowd of 11,000 at the SSE Arena. “Not many people know what I’ve been through. After the Kiko loss, I lost touch with myself. I broke up with my wife. On June 30 I was in a field. I drank a litre of vodka and I was going to kill myself, and somebody saved me.”

Read the full story here.

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