Warsop man turns life around and hopes new boxing gym can help people battling with mental health
Oliver Cox is the first to admit that there are things he has done in the past that he regrets.
But the 36-year-old is using his experiences and battles with his own mental health to shape his new business.
Oliver realised at 15 that he struggled with everyday things but, like many others, he also struggled getting access to professional help – instead turning to drink and then recreational drugs as a misguided coping mechanism.
He admits he has spent time in prison and found himself in a vicious cycle of drink, drugs and steroid use, which culminated in a number of convictions for violent behaviour and stories written about him in national newspapers, before attempting to take his own life on four occasions in 2018 and 2019.
Now sober, Oliver is leaving his past behind him and is hoping he can use his experiences to help others who may be headed down the same path.
He explains: “I have been to prison, I have been in toxic relationships and I have been a recreational drug user for most of my adult life.
"My past was splashed across the tabloids because I was involved with Peaky Blinders, and I had to deal with people judging and staring at me based on a half-story.
"I am completely upfront about my past, and I hope that now I am in a good place and I am sober, that this boxing club will be able to help others like me who are struggling to access help from mental health services.
"Drugs and alcohol may help numb the pain at the time, but adding these to a chemical imbalance that’s already there is a recipe for disaster.”
Oliver says the turning point for him came in 2019 when he avoided going to prison and a failed suicide attempt had ended up with him being placed on a ventilator.
“My mum told me that she understood why I wanted to end my life, and that was a turning point for me,” he continued.
"I had to get myself sorted, so moved back to Nottinghamshire to be near my family and started to get myself straightened out and sobered up.”
With his partner of two years Kirsty Lee, he is now the proud owner of a boxing gym which opened last month.
Ubox, on Church Street in Warsop, is open seven days a week and offers the structure of a boxing club, alongside an understanding ear and a relaxed atmosphere.
"I want anyone, man woman or child, to be able to come here if they are struggling,” he continued.
"Exercise is great for mental health anyway, but having someone who understands what you are going through could be the difference between someone ending up like me, or getting their head straight – I would have loved to have something like this to go to when I was a teenager.
"We have fantastic support from the boxing community and our local councillor and we are hoping that we can eventually work alongside the probation service and courts to help people avoid prison by providing courses for offenders.
"Right now we are working on the boxing aspect and hoping to give people somewhere to go and someone to speak to.”
For more information, check out Ubox on Facebook.