Saturday, 1 June 2013

Impossible Is Nothing : Leon McKenzie

When two time feature writer Manisha Tailor contacted us at No Clash 
Of Colours with an idea for her third feature, we gladly accepted her kind offer. Following on from her previous written piece about how Mental Illness within her family, she continues in the same vein with a feature about Leon McKenzie, former professional Premier League footballer turned professional boxer.

Please leave comments, thoughts in the box below. Please pass on the link to this feature to anyone you know who may be suffering with any form of mental illness, be it patient, carer, family member, friend, colleague.

The more people feel comfortable and confident to discuss, the more people won't have to hide behind a mask.

Thank You Manisha for writing this, we at No Clash Of Colours hope that it receives the attention it ultimately deserves.

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'Premier League – Depression – Suicide – Professional Boxer'

As I read these words from the legend that is Muhammad Ali: “Impossible 
is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in
the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to 
change it.   Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a 
declaration. It's a  dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary.   
Impossible is Nothing", another boxer came to mind, one who I admire, 
respect and hold with high regard, Leon McKenzie.

Trapped, lonely, isolated – all this despite having his loving family, adorable children and a strong support network of friends.  Today, I may have had a different story to tell.  Today, my outlook, as a carer for my 
twin, on ‘mental health’ and ‘depression’ may have looked bleak, as three years ago Leon McKenzie former Norwich City and Crystal Palace striker) tried to take his own life.  A footballer playing in the Premier League, what could have provoked such action? He’s got it all, fame, money, the glitzy lifestyle.  What some of you may be thinking right? Yes, agree, these things do come with the territory, part and parcel of the job. But let us not forget, they are also ‘human’ and ‘people’ before anything else.

The stress and pressures of playing professional football combined with Leon’s slump into depression almost claimed his life.  Statistics suggest
that 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem 
through the year,  an illness that affects ALL PEOPLE. So you see, the story I am telling today could have been different and I am so pleased that it has taken the path of positivity.  Today, Leon McKenzie stands tall through showing personal courage and determination, resistance to negativity and resilience to challenges.  This entwined with a powerful unit of friends and family, today we see Leon McKenzie, Professional Boxer.

Growing up in a boxing family which includes his uncle Duke, three-time World Champion and father Clinton McKenzie, former British and European Champion, following this tradition was perhaps somewhat inevitable.  Earlier this week, Leon gave the public the opportunity to view him in preparation for his boxing debut later this month.  His fight will take place 
at the iconic York Hall in London on Saturday 29th June in the super-middleweight division.  On preparing for the debut, Leon stated:  “I'm going to have bits of my uncle and bits of my dad because they are who I've watched most but really and truly I'm replicating Leon McKenzie.  We've been training really hard, it's always been a passion in my life and I'm overwhelmed. It's a great opportunity for me to take”.

Leon went on to say: “This is very serious for me, something I have always wanted to do.  In the last five years of my life I have been tested - sometimes through my own bad choices, sometimes through circumstance. I am overwhelmed to be stepping into a professional boxing ring. I respect the game and respect anyone that gets into that ring. I fully  believe I can do this”.

From the Premier League, to depression, to suicide and now Professional 
Boxing – I am sure you are with me when I say; his journey is one that we 
cannot even begin to imagine, but most certainly one that sheds light on 
the professional game and the taboo of mental health.  A journey that he 
and all those connected with him can be proud of:  “For myself and my 
family, we all know the road I have been on so what I am doing is an 
achievement in itself. I have been through so much and I can’t wait to 
achieve this long-held dream”.

Leon is living proof that the life of footballers is like a two-sided coin.  On one hand, it is a life of glamour and glory – but on the other, there is much stress and pressure attached. Despite being knocked down, he has continued to fight and come back stronger.  Leon possesses an amazingly strong sense of spirit and character and is an inspiration to many – not just those within the professional game of football, but those who may be suffering in silence.  By speaking out about his depression, he is aiding to break down barriers attached to the issue and will hopefully provoke other sufferers to speak out too.

On hearing Leon’s story, I was certainly inspired. His four children who he 
affectionately calls : Champ, Princess, Sweetpea and Baby T definitely 
have a dad that they can be proud of. They have an exciting and fruitful 
future ahead and I wish them all the very best. 

Leon McKenzie, a man who epitomises sheer COURAGE
Leon McKenzie, a man who epitomises sheer STRENGTH.
Leon McKenzie, a man who is showing IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING.

If you would like to purchase tickets to Leon’s pro boxing debut on June
29th, York Hall, Bethnal Green, please contact: 07596 997232 or email :

You can also follow and support Leon McKenzie via twitter: 
@LeonMcKenzie1 and purchase his autobiography 'MY FIGHT WITH LIFE' 
in which he shares his inspiring journey.

Three years ago, for Leon, life was almost over.  Now, this is only the 

Contact me on #twitter @ManishaTailor1 and visit to view other stories that I have shared.  


1 comment:

  1. "Super article, a must read!"

    via twitter