Bomber Graham finds happiness at last after years of mental health issues

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Herol Graham - one of the most gifted fighters in Sheffield's rich boxing history - says he has found happiness and his family, friends and fans will never have to worry again about him trying to end his own life.

'Bomber,' often described as the best British boxer never to become a world champion, has suffered long-standing mental health issues and once slashed his wrist with a knife.

He was sectioned in 2009 after cutting himself.

Today the 64-year-old former Ingle fighter said he was enjoying life again, after re-discovering the importance of simply talking to people.

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Bomber Graham with Sheffield prospect Teagn StottBomber Graham with Sheffield prospect Teagn Stott
Bomber Graham with Sheffield prospect Teagn Stott

His physical health is good and he cherishes most memories of a 54-fight career (48 wins) which dated from 1978 to 1998.

The one-time southpaw, who has had spells in mental health facilities, revealed he has no real home address, these days, but is currently staying with his cousin in south London: "While I sort myself out.

"My health is alright, I am training still, keeping fit, running on the hills, going to a gym," he told The Star.

"My mental health is better than it was.

Bomber Graham in WBC actionBomber Graham in WBC action
Bomber Graham in WBC action

"Your head rules your body and sometimes you don't know what you are doing but it is the talking side of it that helps."

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The best thing in his life was communicating with others, he explained.

"It sounds stupid but just living, getting on with people is what I like doing the most.

"The more you talk to people the more you learn about them and it brings you down to earth," said Herol, who won the British amateur title at 18 in 1978, before landing British, European, and Commonwealth professional belts.

Bomber Graham in the old days with a very young Naseem HamedBomber Graham in the old days with a very young Naseem Hamed
Bomber Graham in the old days with a very young Naseem Hamed

"I train some kids at the gym every so often - they ask me things and it is nice to help them.

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"I am enjoying life, when I look out of the window at my friend's house I see leaves on the floor and so I get a brush and sweep them up, the place looks better and then I feel good about myself.

"It's silly but it helps me, helping other people," said Herol, once the leading contender for Marvin Hagler’s world middleweight title.

"Staying positive is important if you want to get on with life."

Bomber Graham outside Sheffield Boxing CentreBomber Graham outside Sheffield Boxing Centre
Bomber Graham outside Sheffield Boxing Centre

The one-time superstar now has a sense of purpose after some dark days.

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He admits he has struggled through much of his ring retirement, both mentally and in terms of earning a living, at one point he was earning a few pounds an hour working for ASDA.

"I am happy now, sometimes I think: 'If I had only done this, or that' but I'm much better.

"I've definitely reached a stage before where I didn't want to carry on with life. Then I was thinking: 'I can't stand it, I can't carry on any more.

"I was close to taking my own life.

"But I don't get those thoughts any more, not recently."

Bomber Graham and young fansBomber Graham and young fans
Bomber Graham and young fans

Herol thinks about his hugely-entertaining boxing career every so often but tries to limit the down-sides that accompany professional sport.

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"It is always at the back of your mind, you can't move that, that stays for life and when I go it will go with me.

"I remember old times, brings you back but not the nasty side of it.

"People still tell me how I'd run around the ring and couldn't be caught, and we'll have a laugh.

"There are some bad memories in boxing but I don't put it the front of my mind" he says, possibly a reference to the 1990 battle with Julian Jackson for the vacant WBC middleweight strap.

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Herol dominated the bout but dropped his guard for a split second - just long enough to be KO'd.

His failure to capture a world title seems odd to his fans even to this day - such was the level of his talent.

"It is just how things panned out. Of course, I think about it, if only I'd done this. If I'd done something correct...oh dear" he said.

"But you can't let it bother you. It is no use lingering on something you can't do anything about.

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"I am here now to get on with life. And do the best I can for myself and helping other people."

As for boxing past and present, he says Naseem Hamed was the fighter who leaps out ahead of others, in historical terms, while these days he is a fan of Tyson Fury.

If he had a lesson for any boxer it is this: "Look at me, I messed up the world championship by taking problems into the ring, you can't do that. No one should do that. Just be positive...”

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