Ricky Hatton says he would ‘get the knife out and didn’t care if I lived or died’ – every week in the darkest year of his life
RICKY HATTON shakes his head as he recalls the pressure of the cold knife against his wrist.
This memory, of tears streaming down his face as he contemplated killing himself, is a vivid one.
It happened every week for 12 months in the most traumatic year of the former boxer’s life.
Sat in the office of his gym in Hyde, Hatton says: “I didn’t care if I lived or f***ing died, I really didn’t.
“I’d come into the gym to train and the boys felt I was all right but I’d go home and sit there crying.
“Without even a drink in me, I’d get the knife out and do it again.”
Hatton, 40 next month, runs his finger along his bulging, tattooed forearm to imitate the action.
It was the summer of 2009 — after a brutal knockout loss to Filipino Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas — that Hatton’s hell hit a new level.
The welterweight tasted defeat in the same ring two years prior as he was stopped in the tenth round by US star Floyd Mayweather Jnr.
But this time it was different.
Hatton had been humiliated. Pacquiao was too fast, too accurate and too evasive, leaving the Mancunian knocked out cold on the canvas in less than two rounds.
Everything went wrong at the same time for Hatton. He says: “I’d got the chance to fight Pacquiao and got blasted in two rounds.
“Then I fell out with my mam and dad. I fell out with my trainer Billy Graham — and then reality kicked in that my days were numbered.
“Just seeing my dad drive past the gym would send me f***ing under.
“It was an horrendous time. I’d sit at home and go days without talking.
“Jennifer [his then girlfriend] would say to me, ‘Do you want a brew?’ I’d just nod, not say a word.”
Today, however, Hatton is joking with staff at his Manchester gym and showing off a risque fancy dress outfit he’ll be wearing on a trip to Benidorm later this year.
Yet in his office, he discusses his depression exclusively for The Sun’s You’re Not Alone campaign.
The Hitman says: “People with success are less able to cope as you’re used to being on Mount Everest and when it’s gone, what do you do?
“It doesn’t matter about your belts, trophies or money, it’s up there [points to his temple] you need help.”
One of the boxers Hatton is most worried for is Tyson Fury.
The former heavyweight champion’s battle with depression has been well publicised but he is back in the ring and eyeing a title fight.
Hatton adds: “We have chats here and there about how to deal with it.
“The only thing I worry about with Tyson is long term — once boxing has gone, you can’t go back.
“He’s got to do what I do. I hope I’m the one he turns to. I’d go as far as to say it feels like the depression has gone — but I know it hasn’t.”
Hatton’s psychiatrist advised him to save photos on his mobile of his three children, his titles, cheering fans and his beloved Manchester City.
He says: “You wouldn’t think it would but it really works.”
Hatton believes depression lurked within him from a young age.
He reveals: “I had a complex of what people thought of me — for someone that did boxing, I was very, very weak from the outset.
“When I got successful and people started talking about me, I didn’t want anyone thinking I thought I was a ‘big-time Charlie’.”
Success helped Hatton keep his feelings at bay. From his first pro fight in September 1997, he was unbeaten in 42 bouts before facing Mayweather in December 2007.
Hatton says: “It came to the forefront because by the Mayweather fight I was unbeaten, lots of success, not a lot to complain about, loved by fans, a few quid in the bank.
“That triggered everything. Once I got beat I felt so ashamed. I cancelled all my appearances. I was too embarrassed to walk down the street or go for a pint with mates.”
When the suicide attempts failed, he turned to the bottle: “I thought I’d drink myself to death and then I took drugs to help me drink more.”
In 2010, Hatton apologised after an image on the front of News of the World showed him snorting cocaine. He had been known for drinking and partying but not drugs.
He explains: “I needed saving as I wasn’t going to do it myself and I wasn’t going to ask for help.”
The turning point came when Jennifer fell pregnant.
Hatton says: “They say things happen for a reason and Millie wasn’t even planned. When I held her in my arms the penny dropped.
“I’d felt like it was me on my own but holding Millie I thought I’d get myself together.
“I got a psychiatrist, started talking and getting things off my chest.”
Hatton first verbalised his issues at The Priory but found true solace at former England captain Tony Adams’ Sporting Chance Clinic.
He adds: “They asked how you felt when it was in the paper, when your team and gym mates knew what you’d been up to. They can relate.”
Hatton came out the other end with a new purpose in life.
He says: “My job now is to train, promote and manage boxers, do talks — and I like to think I’m a patron for mental health. I see it as my job.”
Music from the gym vibrates through the floorboards. It is here Hatton has always felt comfort.
He smiles and says: “If one of my boys wins a title they say, ‘Thanks, Ricky, I’ve got my mortgage paid off now’ or something like that. That’s where I get my little buzz now.”
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