Men on the ropes

Tommy Gilmour case study

Tommy Gilmour, 58, Scottish boxing promoter and owner of St Andrews Sporting Club, said:

“I was born and raised on the south side of Glasgow. My mum was a housewife and my dad started out working in a factory as an aluminium machinist. Boxing has been in my family for generations. My Grandad was an Olympic boxer and I followed in my dad’s footsteps as a boxing promoter.

Since I got my licence when I was 18, I’ve known a lot of fighters with problems that we’ve had to help. One fighter came to me absolutely distraught the night before a big fight, over his financial problems, and asked me what he could do. He was fortunate that he could open up and came to me.

In the case of our fighters it’s not for me to organise their business life. But I do often say, if you have a problem pick up the phone and talk, because the problem can end up affecting the boxing. Whatever my fighters say to me, in my office, it stays in those four walls – it’s confidential, and I hope I can give them some perspective.

It seems to me that people don’t realise they have depression. I had a close friend who, 30 years ago, got into difficulty. He mistakenly thought his business was collapsing and I never knew anything was wrong. He had a nervous breakdown and was taken to a psychiatric ward. Depression is often such a private illness; I think people see it as a weakness, something they find difficult to discuss. It’s especially hard for men who need to be seen as strong characters, but they feel bleak and black sometimes.

I myself went through a dark period after I promoted my first World Title fight. It was 1992, in Glasgow, between Pat Clinton and Isadore Perez. It was the first World Title fight promoted in Scotland for many years. That was one of my greatest achievements, but there was such a big price to pay. I was on such an adrenaline buzz that when I came back to normality I was moping around, I lost the ability to concentrate. In short, I found it difficult to go back to the mainstream. I had realised a dream and after that, nothing seemed as good. Luckily I had my wife and kids to support me, but it was the nearest thing I’ve had to a breakdown. When I look back, I was drained both physically and mentally.

The old adage a problem shared is a problem halved is true – you should find someone you feel comfortable with, just talk and get them to listen to you.

More information

This information forms part of Samaritans' latest advertising campaign targeting men to get all men talking about their feelings. The aim is to get them to consider that calling Samaritans’ 24/7 confidential helpline could be an option for them.

Equally, though, we believe that talking to anyone – family, friends, colleagues, health professionals – is better than bottling things up.