Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

FIGHT OF FIGHT OF MY LIFE! MY LIFE! ; after Staring into the Abyss, Salford Fighter JamesDavenport Reveals How Boxing Offered Him Salvation

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

FIGHT OF FIGHT OF MY LIFE! MY LIFE! ; after Staring into the Abyss, Salford Fighter JamesDavenport Reveals How Boxing Offered Him Salvation

Article excerpt

WHEN James 'Shinny' Davenport steps into the ring on Sunday, he will have already faced the toughest fight of his life.

Returning to boxing for the first time in more than six years, the 35-year-old is open about his battles with drug addiction - and how the possibility of never seeing his children again finally forced him to clean up his act.

"My mum used to live in fear of getting THAT phone call," said Davenport, who played rugby league for Leeds Rhinos and Salford Reds, as well as fighting on the same bill as Joe Calzaghe at the MEN Arena.

"If you've gone down the path of drugs and alcohol for 20 years - it's the only thing you know.

"The only way I knew how to dig myself out of this mess was to fight. I've always fought a battle with drugs and alcohol. I've had treatment, hypnosis, counselling - the only thing that has ever stopped me was boxing."

Davenport's original boxing career only lasted for five bouts, with the highlight coming in his final contest on the undercard of Calzaghe's victory against Jeff Lacy in 2006.

Before that he had enjoyed success in rugby league in his early 20s.

As a musician, he has supported New Order on four occasions and has just written his third album.

And it was in his life away from professional sport that his problems began.

"I always lived the lifestyle of rock'n'roll - but also a healthy one through sport," said Davenport, from Salford. "I thought it was all right getting up having had no sleep. People knew my dirty secret.

"I got hurt in my fourth fight as I'd been out drinking two week before. I was out for two days on cocaine and alcohol as I was in the state of mind that I could knock people out and get away with it. But I got hurt badly.

"I came back to win one more fight, retired and got back to what I knew best - music, drugs and alcohol.

"If it wasn't for my kids, I wouldn't be here now. I just want to make them proud."

At his lowest points Davenport would wake up after gigs not knowing where he was.

"I'd be in people's houses, dressed in their clothes," he revealed. "I've had hallucinations in the street and paranoia.

"The worst part is losing everything - the respect of your family and your self respect. …

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