Nigel Benn Fern Britton Meets...


Nigel Benn

Fern Britton meets boxing legend and two-time world champion Nigel Benn. He charts his glittering career but also shares his more troubled personal journey.


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Transcript


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My guest this week

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is counted amongst the greatest of British sporting heroes.

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Introducing Nigel Benn!

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Known as the Dark Destroyer,

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he was a two-time world champion and in a glittering career,

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he first put on his boxing gloves when he was serving

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for the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

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Nigel Benn went on to win 42 out of 48 of his professional fights.

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..Takes this fight by the scruff of the neck...

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35 of those victories were knockouts.

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Once again he fights back!

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But looking back over his life,

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it's easy to see that Nigel's longest fight, his greatest fight

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and his finest victory was actually the battle he fought with himself.

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Nigel Benn was eight years old when a family tragedy

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turned his world upside down.

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Something in my heart was severed.

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I had no feelings.

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That pattern from a young eight-year-old boy

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went all the way through my life, the anger and the hurt that I had.

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Five years in the Army gave him discipline and a will to win.

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There were highs...

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Nigel was a marauding, attacking puncher who just walked you down,

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put you to the ropes and knocked you out.

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Nigel Benn, the Dark Destroyer...

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..and there were also lows.

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I remember kissing one hand, saying, "Sorry." And that was it.

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Outside the boxing ring, Nigel's life spiralled out of control.

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He lived his life like he used to fight.

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I didn't even care about the fight.

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-Get him out the way, let's go out and party.

-Shocking.

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Eventually his past caught up with him, and Nigel even thought

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about taking his own life.

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I don't know if I wanted to die.

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I think I just wanted someone to say, "You know what?

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"You're going to be all right."

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Help came from an unexpected source.

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God used a 63-year-old woman

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to break Nigel down to who God created Nigel to be.

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What I want to know is how, against all the odds,

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Nigel Benn won the fight of his life.

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UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYS

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Is this bringing back memories?

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Although, actually, this was your club, wasn't it?

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But not this building.

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Yeah, this is where I really started boxing.

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It's got so much character, got so much history as well.

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But you're on the board over there.

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-Aren't you?

-Yeah.

-Hang on a minute...

-1986.

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Just after Mark Kaylor.

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Would have been nice if I had some lights,

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with my name up in lights there, but I'll take that.

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I'll stick some fairy lights up there for you for Christmas.

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# You say that you love me

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# Say you love me... #

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Nigel Gregory Benn was born on 22nd January 1964

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in Ilford, Essex, to parents Dixon and Mina,

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who came to England from Barbados in the mid-1950s

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with their growing family - all boys.

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So, what was family like when you were growing up in

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a house full of seven boys? Your mum was the only woman!

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Mum was the only woman. She wanted a girl so badly!

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From the top - Andy, Dermot, John,

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Danny, Mark, Nigel and Tony.

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Nigel being second from youngest, obviously we looked after him,

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you know what I mean?

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But after a certain amount of years, he looked after himself, you know?

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That's the type of chap he was.

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We just had fisticuffs amongst each other but, being honest with you,

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it was the best time of my life.

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We never had much. "Mum, we ain't got no food."

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And she'd come out with her accent,

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"What do you mean, you ain't got no food?"

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And she would knock something up, we'd think, "Wow, that was great!"

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What sort of mum was she?

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Mum was good. Mum was all right. Oh...

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If I was naughty, "You wait till I tell your dad."

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"Oh, no, where do you want me to clean up, Mum?

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"What do you want me to do, the washing up?"

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-Mum was good.

-But your father was the disciplinarian.

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My dad was discipline.

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But he was fair.

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But the minute you stepped out of line, he come down on you heavy.

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I know my dad loved me very much.

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Out of all seven boys, we were the closest.

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-Were you?

-Absolutely.

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But in 1972, Nigel's parents were faced with devastating news,

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which they had to break to the rest of the family.

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Uh... Oh.

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All I remember, I think it was about four, five o'clock in the morning.

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And I remember hearing my mum screaming, "He's dead, he's dead!"

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I was eight years old, I didn't understand what "dead" was.

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Mum and Dad woke us all up

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and said,

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"Your brother won't be coming home again."

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And we said, "What do you mean, he won't be coming home again?"

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They said, "He's dead." And, uh...

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That was about it, really. I sort of remembered... I was only...

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11, 12. And...

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Our biggest brother was our hero, he looked after us, you know?

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And the house is, like, police cars are flashing outside,

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the lights and all that.

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Later I found out my brother was killed by racists.

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-By racists.

-Yeah, he was pushed through a window,

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cut his groin and bled to death.

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Nigel believes his brother was murdered,

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but nothing was ever proved beyond the bare facts -

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Andy felt from an upstairs window onto a glass roof.

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-How old was he?

-He was 17.

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Back then, you think, well, when you're 18 you're a man.

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Now that I'm 52, nearly 53, I think,

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"He was just a little boy."

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He's the only one that come from Barbados.

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All my other brothers were all born in England, he was the only one.

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So, it was really a...

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A really telling time for Mum and Dad.

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They seemed like they brought him

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all the way from Barbados to England...

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-To die.

-And he died.

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-So it was really hard for them.

-Yeah.

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And it was hard for the family because...

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no-one talked about it for many, many years,

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until we were all adults. No-one ever talked about it.

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It was tough. It was a tough five, six years just getting over it.

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Even now I still get emotional.

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Yeah.

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Losing the brother he worshipped had a lasting effect on the young,

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impressionable Nigel.

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Me and my brother Andy, we were so close, you know? I just loved him.

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Something in my heart was severed. I just changed.

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I had no feelings.

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And that pattern from a young eight-year-old boy went

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all the way through my life, the anger and the hurt that I had.

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I started smoking at eight, and I was always fighting.

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-You were smoking at eight?

-Yeah, eight years old.

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I just...just went off.

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The main thing with Nigel when he was a youngster was fighting.

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Always in scraps.

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He wouldn't be afraid to get in a scrap, and he had

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a bit of light-fingering,

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he'd go into places and take stuff, you know?

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I always shoplifting.

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I remember in 1976, nicked a crushed velvet jacket from Marks & Spencer.

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ALARM WAILS

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Woolworth and Marks & Spencer, it weren't, like, Versace or anything.

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I done a lot of bad things.

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Nicked my auntie's purse, my next-door neighbour's purse.

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I just went off the rails. Needed money.

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What did you need money for?

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Just so that I can go and just enjoy myself.

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And then I made everybody in school on my birthday bring me 50 pence.

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-You made everybody?

-Yeah.

-What, you bullied them into it?

-Yeah.

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I was a horrible kid, yeah.

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He was definitely a rogue, you know, but that was him.

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Do you know what I mean?

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Were you caught?

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Oh, yeah, I was caught. I think...

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"Please send my mum, not my dad. Oh, please, please send my mum."

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How did your father react?

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He said,

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"By hook or by crook, you're not going to end up like your brother."

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I think, "Oh, OK, right."

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-Not end up dead like Andy.

-Yeah, yeah.

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And I was going that way. I was going that way and I think...

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What he was trying to do, he was trying to steer me the other way.

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-Mm. Was there much church in your life?

-No church at all. Yeah.

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Not my cup of tea.

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-So at that time, God wasn't present in your life.

-No, not at all.

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He was around me but I didn't know him, not at all, no, no.

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Far from it. I was more in the other corner.

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By far, more in the other corner.

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As Nigel reached 16, his parents were at the end of their tether.

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They turned to one of their older sons, John,

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for help with the tearaway teenager.

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-My brother John was in the Army.

-Oh, was he?

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And John used to walk down our road in his uniform, looking immaculate.

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It was like a fanfare,

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"Look, here comes John!" It was like that. Everything about him...

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I just loved... "I want to be like John."

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John was serving overseas when he received

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a desperate phone call from his mum.

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I could tell in her voice that something weren't right and

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she said, "John, do me a big favour.

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"Have a word with Nigel, get him in the Army, because I can see him

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"killing somebody or getting killed or being put in prison.

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"Please, have a word with him and get him in the Army."

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I said, "Mum, don't worry, when I'm on leave next time,

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"I'll have a chat with him."

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And so Nigel joined the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

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1st Battalion and reported for his initial 18-week training.

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Now, the objective of your training

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is to transform you from the soft life of a civilian

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into a robust fighting man.

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Oh...wow.

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Left, right, left, right!

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Basic training, it was like...

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I can't say what they used to say to you.

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Stand at attention when you're speaking to me!

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I mean, screaming in your ears.

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Sit down!

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Screaming, tipping you up in the bed.

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Wakey, wakey, rise and shine! Let's be having you!

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And we're like...

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"Oh, Mum!"

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-How old were you then?

-I was 17.

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I would not change it for anything, cos I learned so much about myself.

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At that time, Rocky was out.

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We were running in the snow, the sleet would be bouncing off us,

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"Yeah, yeah, I'm a He-Man!"

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I think it affects you, cos it just changed my mentality.

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If I didn't join the Army, I don't know where I would be.

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For me, joining the Army was the best move I ever done.

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It gave me that discipline, that determination and will to win.

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Mm. So the anger you had from Andy's death and all of those

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troubled teenage years was being exhausted, really, by this.

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No, it's just in the back.

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It's just in the back at this present moment because I'm learning

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something. What was going on before back Ilford...

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I can't even think about that now. I have not got time

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to think about what was going on.

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The anger from what happened to my brother is still in me

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and it's going to carry me through a lot of the arenas

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that I'm going to go through now.

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During his time in the Army, Nigel was sent on operational tour

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to Germany, where his brother John was also stationed.

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-He was a boxer, wasn't he, in the Army?

-Yes.

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Is that what led you into boxing?

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No, it was already in me, I was always street-fighting anyway.

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Without gloves?

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Yeah, without gloves and... Yeah...

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No, that was already in me, cos I did martial arts.

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I was always into contact sports.

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Nigel took every opportunity the Army offered to develop

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his boxing skills.

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This is not Come Dancing, you're allowed to hit.

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But it wasn't just a passion for fighting that kept him in the ring.

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If you're good at sport in the Army, they take good care of you.

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Really take good care of you.

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He boxed because he could get away with murder.

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We didn't wear a uniform, we didn't do any duties

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and we were treated like kings, basically, and I think that's why...

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He done it more for that than actually a love of boxing,

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to be honest with you.

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Instead of me getting out my bed at 4.45 in the morning,

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I'm getting out my bed at nine o'clock. While they're all having

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slops and all that, I'm having steak and salad.

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-That was a good incentive, wasn't it?

-Absolutely!

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Whatever the motives behind his Army boxing,

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he proved to be a formidable opponent.

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When did you know that you were really good at boxing?

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I didn't.

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-Really?

-I didn't.

-How many wins had you had in the Army?

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-All.

-All of them?

-Yeah.

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So how many fights was that?

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About 50.

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When his time in the Army came to an end, Nigel returned to London.

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He continued to box but he also had bills to pay.

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I came out with an exemplary record so I had no problem getting a job -

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a store detective...

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in Woolworth, where I used to shoplift.

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THEY LAUGH

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His ambitions in life were modest.

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I just wanted a terraced house like me dad,

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cos I thought me dad had made it.

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And I'll be one better than my dad, I'll have a BMW.

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That's all I wanted - I just wanted a terraced house, like my dad.

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I didn't want nothing much, just like my dad.

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After store detective work, Nigel switched to armoured van security

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and discovered that even after four years of Army discipline,

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temptation wasn't far away.

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So you were doing cash in transit, in the vans...

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Yeah, and the thoughts that were going through,

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sitting on, like, £500,000, like, "Oh, how can I get this out?"

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-Did you? You were tempted?

-Course I was.

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-Did you have a plan, though, in your head?

-Oh... Yes.

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It wouldn't have worked but...

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We would've blown the van up,

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the money would just have been left, the top would have been open...

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You had plans - wishful thinking!

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Nigel's plans now included another person in his life.

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Tell me about meeting Sharon, your first wife.

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Yeah, me and Sharon...

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Yeah...

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Oh, you've thrown me there.

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Yeah, me and Sharon, we got on really well,

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-we got on really well in the beginning.

-Yeah.

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Well, you were very young, both of you, for a start.

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We were young, and I think that my first wife, we weren't meant to be,

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we weren't meant to be, and that's no disrespect to her.

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We just didn't know how to love one another.

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We have three beautiful kids, Dominic, Sade and Reene.

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Nigel was working full time to support his family,

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but he was also making a name for himself in boxing's amateur ranks.

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-COMMENTATOR:

-Nigel Benn comes from Mark Kaylor's old club

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but the man he has to beat is Gloucester's Johnny Melfah.

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After knocking out 24 of his 28 opponents,

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he beat Johnny Melfah in 1986

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to become amateur boxing's Middleweight champion.

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Another chance of looking at it here.

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Benn seems, to me, to be immensely strong.

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The following year, his life changed when he turned professional.

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Your first professional fight - obviously, you remember that.

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Graeme Ahmed in Fairfield Halls in Croydon.

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Was that a good purse to start with?

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Oh, no. I only started off on, like, £1,000

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but, to me...and I can remember...

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I remember signing on at 16,

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I remember it today like it was yesterday,

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I was getting £36.40 every two weeks.

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-Yes.

-I remember that.

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It's like God's always reminding me,

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"Yeah, remember where you come from, your £36.40 every two weeks."

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-Yes.

-Then, all of a sudden, it was, like, getting £1,000.

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Wow, I get £1,000 for knocking...

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And then it just went to five, 15, 50,

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-100, 400 and so on.

-Wow.

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-Money was just coming in...

-From every fight?

-Yeah.

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When I train,

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I think, "Yeah, Mercedes Sports, a nice, big house,

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"money in the bank, Rolex watches, diamonds."

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That's what I think about and that's what drives me on,

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that's what I want, and I'm willing to work hard for it.

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-In a year, we moved to a seven-bedroom mansion.

-Wow.

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This is my house, a big, massive swimming pool,

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a massive garden, I'm like...

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"I own this house. This is mine."

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After turning pro in 1987,

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the fights and the victories just kept coming.

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-One a month?

-Mm-hm.

-And they were all wins.

0:18:400:18:44

22 wins, 22 fights, 22 knockouts.

0:18:440:18:47

-ANNOUNCER:

-Nigel Benn!

0:18:470:18:49

CHEERING

0:18:490:18:52

In April 1988, less than a year after his first professional fight,

0:18:530:18:58

Nigel won the Commonwealth Middleweight title

0:18:580:19:01

and a formidable nickname.

0:19:010:19:03

-COMMENTATOR:

-Nigel Benn, the Dark Destroyer.

0:19:030:19:06

Quite probably one of the most popular boxers

0:19:060:19:09

in the country at the moment.

0:19:090:19:10

And this is a moment, really,

0:19:100:19:11

when your celebrity life's really kicked in.

0:19:110:19:14

Yeah, from that time.

0:19:140:19:16

Once I got that belt around my waist, that was it.

0:19:160:19:19

I have watched many of my dad's fights.

0:19:310:19:33

He's like a warrior when he goes in there.

0:19:350:19:37

Ferocious, savage, animal.

0:19:390:19:42

When I hit someone, I know I'm hitting them hard.

0:19:420:19:44

# Oh, baby, no I can't take it... #

0:19:440:19:48

And you know, if you're getting in a room with him,

0:19:480:19:50

there's just going to be no way out, really.

0:19:500:19:53

I think he was an amazing fighter.

0:19:530:19:55

Just knock them out - boom, that's it.

0:19:550:19:58

Right on the chin, and he's out.

0:20:010:20:03

I think if I weren't related to Dad,

0:20:030:20:05

and I just saw him back in his boxing days,

0:20:050:20:08

I'd be terrified of him.

0:20:080:20:09

Terrified.

0:20:090:20:10

CHEERING

0:20:160:20:19

Did you get the posse of people around you? The entourage?

0:20:250:20:28

-Listen, wow!

-Yeah?

0:20:280:20:31

They just come out from everywhere!

0:20:310:20:34

And you know what it is? It was like wherever I went, I had an entourage.

0:20:340:20:39

How many?

0:20:390:20:41

We'd have a posse of bullheads. You know what bullheads are?

0:20:410:20:46

Massive bodybuilders, all around us, but all, like, pals,

0:20:460:20:51

all pals, and we'd, like, take over a club for, like...

0:20:510:20:54

We've done this for about ten years.

0:20:540:20:56

DANCE MUSIC PLAYS

0:20:560:20:59

It was just too excessive sometimes, you know?

0:21:040:21:07

Everybody's trying stuff, "I want you here, I want you there,"

0:21:070:21:10

and it was just too much.

0:21:100:21:12

I didn't even care about the fighting.

0:21:120:21:14

Boom! Get him out the way,

0:21:140:21:15

let's go out and party - that was my whole attitude.

0:21:150:21:18

-Shocking.

-I just got swept along, I just got swept along.

0:21:180:21:23

It was just unbelievable, it was like...

0:21:230:21:25

Who was paying the bills, though? You?

0:21:250:21:27

-No, these people had money as well.

-"These people"?

0:21:280:21:31

That sounds very underworld-y. Gangster land.

0:21:310:21:34

-Yes.

-Really?

0:21:340:21:36

Oh, yeah. Very, very...

0:21:360:21:38

These people that come along and say you're mates,

0:21:380:21:40

they want to take you here, they want to give you this,

0:21:400:21:42

they want to give you that - they're not your friends.

0:21:420:21:45

They're just after being seen with you,

0:21:450:21:47

as long as you do stuff for them, but, you know, I've always said -

0:21:470:21:50

I had friends before I had money, and they're my safe friends.

0:21:500:21:53

That's my policy.

0:21:530:21:54

Fern, it was like, um, all through my career, I couldn't stop.

0:21:540:22:00

It was like I was getting pulled around, all these shows,

0:22:000:22:04

and I just didn't really have no time to myself.

0:22:040:22:07

It was just like a merry-go-round, I couldn't get off.

0:22:070:22:11

It was like that.

0:22:110:22:12

Has all this fame and fortune

0:22:120:22:13

changed the so-called Dark Destroyer? You bet it has.

0:22:130:22:17

# I'm gonna stand and fight

0:22:170:22:18

# I'm gonna make it right I said. #

0:22:180:22:20

# Stand and fight... #

0:22:200:22:23

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:22:240:22:27

Nigel Benn!

0:22:300:22:31

APPLAUSE

0:22:310:22:34

# I'm gonna stand and fight

0:22:350:22:36

# I'm gonna make it right I said... #

0:22:360:22:38

Incidentally, you may have noticed some rap music

0:22:380:22:40

in the background during that film.

0:22:400:22:41

It was in fact taken from Nigel's new pop single

0:22:410:22:43

Stand Up And Fight, which will be in the shops very shortly.

0:22:430:22:46

With his single peaking in the charts at 61,

0:22:460:22:50

Nigel was never going to be a pop star.

0:22:500:22:52

In the ring, he continued to power his way to the top,

0:22:520:22:55

a seemingly unstoppable force.

0:22:550:22:58

But he was about to learn his first hard lesson as a professional boxer.

0:22:590:23:03

Finsbury Park, London, 21st May 1999.

0:23:050:23:10

Nigel Benn, the Dark Destroyer, against Michael Watson, the Force.

0:23:100:23:15

They thought they could walk through Michael Watson,

0:23:150:23:17

they thought Michael Watson was soft.

0:23:170:23:19

What could he do to me?

0:23:190:23:20

22 fights, 22 wins, 22 KO's.

0:23:210:23:25

What can he do to me?

0:23:250:23:27

I remember, this was how confident I was,

0:23:270:23:30

I went to the hairdresser's to get my hair plaited

0:23:300:23:34

a couple of hours before the fight.

0:23:340:23:36

He was more concerned about his hair than he was about Michael Watson.

0:23:360:23:40

He should have been more concerned about Michael Watson.

0:23:400:23:43

I'm in the greatest shape ever,

0:23:430:23:44

and if I stop Benn, it'll come like a bonus,

0:23:440:23:47

but I'm ready to have a really good time.

0:23:470:23:49

BELL RINGS

0:23:490:23:52

Nigel started the normal way - wham, wham -

0:23:520:23:55

and just throwing everything at him, and you could see things unfolding

0:23:550:23:58

from about four rounds into the fight.

0:23:580:24:00

After the five rounds...

0:24:000:24:03

I'm, like, on empty.

0:24:030:24:05

And I know the light's flashing - you're on empty, you're on empty.

0:24:050:24:10

As I went back to my corner, this is what my trainer said to me -

0:24:100:24:14

"Go out there and steam him.

0:24:140:24:16

"Just go out there and steam him."

0:24:170:24:19

What do you think I've been doing for the last five rounds?

0:24:190:24:22

He blew a gasket, he ran out of steam,

0:24:220:24:24

and he just couldn't seem to penetrate Michael Watson's defence.

0:24:240:24:28

And Michael just hit me with a jab, and I went down.

0:24:280:24:31

Well, it's happened.

0:24:340:24:35

The man who swept to popularity on the strength of his lethal punching

0:24:350:24:38

has himself landed on the canvas.

0:24:380:24:40

Nigel Benn was knocked out in the sixth round at Finsbury Park

0:24:400:24:43

last night by Michael Watson.

0:24:430:24:44

And that was a hell of a turn-up for the books, and everybody was

0:24:440:24:47

flabbergasted, to be honest.

0:24:470:24:49

And I remember walking back to my changing room...

0:24:490:24:52

..and it was quiet, like this. You could hear a pin drop.

0:24:540:24:57

Everybody said, "Yo, Nige, I'm just going to hang out with Michael.

0:24:580:25:04

"When you get the title back, give me a ring."

0:25:040:25:08

It was like that, so you're left on your own.

0:25:080:25:10

-It was just me and my jockstrap left in the changing room.

-Really?

0:25:100:25:15

And it was like...

0:25:150:25:16

Cos I thought I was the best thing since sliced bread...

0:25:160:25:19

-Well, you would.

-..and I've got the world on my shoulders now.

0:25:190:25:23

I'm a loser, I can't...

0:25:230:25:24

That was it.

0:25:240:25:26

All the negative thoughts started coming back, taking over.

0:25:260:25:29

But the Dark Destroyer was destroyed.

0:25:320:25:34

HE GROANS

0:25:340:25:35

Oof!

0:25:350:25:36

-I weren't... No, no, no, I wasn't destroyed.

-Finished?

-I came back.

0:25:360:25:42

Cos you've got to get this right, because I came back.

0:25:420:25:45

-If I'd been destroyed, that would mean I would've gone for good.

-Yeah.

0:25:450:25:48

-But you lost, unfortunately, your title.

-Yes, yes.

0:25:480:25:51

It was my first defeat.

0:25:510:25:55

That was the first time Nigel had to come to terms with the fact,

0:25:550:26:00

well, I am vulnerable, I am beatable, I am human.

0:26:000:26:04

The Michael Watson fight was Nigel's wake-up call.

0:26:050:26:08

Am I going to make it? Am I really as good as what I think I am?

0:26:080:26:12

I had to go away.

0:26:120:26:14

With his whole career at stake, Nigel headed across the Atlantic

0:26:170:26:20

to the gym where Muhammad Ali himself had trained -

0:26:200:26:24

5th Street Gym, Miami Beach,

0:26:240:26:26

known as the university of boxing.

0:26:260:26:28

I wanted to better myself because I knew there was more in me.

0:26:300:26:33

I just needed to learn my trade.

0:26:330:26:35

And how to pace it, cos I never knew how to pace.

0:26:350:26:37

I only had one gear - first gear.

0:26:370:26:40

-You did pretty well, though, with only one gear.

-Yeah.

-You did.

0:26:400:26:44

But you know what? That was what was in me.

0:26:440:26:47

That's what was in me. I went in, can I do ten rounds?

0:26:480:26:52

Cos I'd never done ten rounds before.

0:26:520:26:54

Six rounds was like the maximum, with Michael Watson,

0:26:540:26:57

and I was exhausted so I'd think, "Well, can I do ten rounds?"

0:26:570:27:01

In Miami, Nigel went back to basics.

0:27:010:27:04

He was honing his skills, training three times a day,

0:27:040:27:07

and sparring with top fighters.

0:27:070:27:09

In 5th Street Gym, some guys used to - bang, bang, bang, bang!

0:27:110:27:17

Knock my headgear flying, I'd think, "Oh, really, Lord?

0:27:170:27:23

"Just break my leg so I ain't got to come in sparring."

0:27:230:27:26

That was my attitude, I hated sparring,

0:27:260:27:28

because I didn't understand it, but then after about three months,

0:27:280:27:33

I understood their culture.

0:27:330:27:35

And eventually, no-one wanted to spar with me.

0:27:350:27:39

-So it was building your stamina?

-Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

0:27:420:27:45

So I knew how to go through the gears.

0:27:450:27:47

Now, I've got second, oh, look, third.

0:27:470:27:49

Oh, I'll tell you what, this one's got fifth as well.

0:27:490:27:52

I never knew how to do that before.

0:27:520:27:55

-So Miami was the place.

-Absolutely.

0:27:550:27:57

With renewed confidence, Nigel won his next five fights,

0:27:580:28:03

and in April 1990 beat Doug DeWitt to win his first world title.

0:28:030:28:08

Congratulations and welcome

0:28:080:28:10

to the WBO Middleweight champ of the world, Nigel Benn!

0:28:100:28:14

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:28:140:28:17

He returned home and wasted no time in showing off his belt.

0:28:200:28:24

-That's the belt.

-That's the belt.

-Look at that belt.

0:28:280:28:32

At what stage in the fight did you hurt your hand?

0:28:320:28:35

-I hurt it in the last punch in the eighth round.

-That was lucky.

0:28:350:28:39

-The very last punch.

-That was lucky, wasn't it?

0:28:390:28:41

If that had gone earlier, you might have been in trouble.

0:28:410:28:43

-No, I would have carried on using my right.

-Yeah.

0:28:430:28:46

LAUGHTER

0:28:460:28:47

APPLAUSE

0:28:470:28:48

Nigel didn't have long to bask in the glory of his world title.

0:28:480:28:52

Someone else was after his belt -

0:28:530:28:56

a fellow Brit who would become his greatest rival.

0:28:560:28:59

When did you first hear the name Chris Eubank?

0:29:010:29:03

I don't know, it was so funny, it was like...

0:29:050:29:09

Bloop!

0:29:090:29:10

Whe... Where did he come from?

0:29:100:29:15

Eubank had had a couple of fights

0:29:150:29:17

but he really wasn't a big name and suddenly he came in,

0:29:170:29:23

with all his arrogance and brashness, and said,

0:29:230:29:25

"I'm going to beat you, I'm going to wipe the floor with you."

0:29:250:29:29

Christopher Livingstone Eubank had also trained in the States.

0:29:300:29:34

He'd never lost a fight.

0:29:340:29:36

But it was his flamboyant persona outside the ring

0:29:360:29:39

that was really getting him noticed.

0:29:390:29:42

Who's this man with...jodhpurs,

0:29:420:29:46

a monocle and a cane

0:29:460:29:49

and with a lisp worse than mine?

0:29:490:29:51

I don't know where he come... he's a sharp dresser.

0:29:510:29:54

But I thought, I don't know where he came from,

0:29:540:29:57

he was just, like, was there, we were just so different.

0:29:570:30:01

And it was like, you know, he was looking down on everyone,

0:30:010:30:05

he just thought he was better than everybody,

0:30:050:30:07

it was just the way he was...

0:30:070:30:10

-So he genuinely got under your skin?

-Oh, big time.

0:30:100:30:14

And I want to jump on him and fight him for real.

0:30:140:30:17

There was no playing around with me and him.

0:30:170:30:20

There was no playing around with me and him.

0:30:200:30:22

Nigel hated the man...passionately.

0:30:220:30:25

Let's make sure the fight takes place

0:30:250:30:27

by signing the contract right now.

0:30:270:30:29

Christopher.

0:30:290:30:31

I have to say, there seems an element of genuine hate

0:30:310:30:34

-between these two, Ambrose.

-For sure.

0:30:340:30:36

I have nothing to say to Nigel, I find the man intolerable.

0:30:360:30:39

In fact he's so wild, I have no time for such people.

0:30:390:30:42

He has no class as far as I see it.

0:30:420:30:44

It was fantastic.

0:30:440:30:45

It was just great, and you don't get those type of rivalries,

0:30:450:30:49

and it was just great to watch.

0:30:490:30:51

I personally do hate him.

0:30:510:30:53

So is there any point asking you

0:30:530:30:54

-to shake hands after signing the contract?

-No, no, no.

0:30:540:30:56

Chris Eubank, with his monocle and his walking stick,

0:30:560:30:59

and Nigel, just wanting to tear everyone limb from limb,

0:30:590:31:02

so you need them rivalries in boxing, that's what makes the sport.

0:31:020:31:06

18th November 1990, the NEC Birmingham.

0:31:070:31:11

Eubank, the unbeaten fighter.

0:31:110:31:14

Benn with a reputation for knocking people out.

0:31:140:31:18

Most of the boxing experts and the pundits all had, you know,

0:31:180:31:23

Benn winning the fight easily, stopping Eubank, etc, etc,

0:31:230:31:27

and this young pretender.

0:31:270:31:28

Eubank was a very good fighter,

0:31:280:31:30

but he didn't have that aura round him, like Nigel had.

0:31:300:31:33

-That was a very tough fight.

-Very tough fight.

-It really was.

0:31:330:31:37

He was just so strong.

0:31:370:31:38

When Nigel went on the attack, you know,

0:31:390:31:41

you could see the people sat in the stand next to you moving

0:31:410:31:45

a little bit forward in their seat and, you know, "Come on, Nigel!"

0:31:450:31:49

He had a neck that was just full of muscle

0:31:490:31:52

and he had a head shaped like a mallet,

0:31:520:31:55

he was just so strong, I was hitting and...ching!

0:31:550:31:58

I couldn't even dent it.

0:31:580:32:00

I couldn't even dent it.

0:32:000:32:02

Nigel was too aggressive, too eager going for the knockout

0:32:020:32:04

and he flew at him with no care for the punches

0:32:040:32:07

that were coming back at him.

0:32:070:32:08

He can't half bang. He's got a lot of power.

0:32:080:32:12

And Eubank showed that night how tough he was.

0:32:120:32:15

More than anything else, he had the ability to absorb punishment,

0:32:150:32:20

like nobody I've ever seen before, he just soaked it up.

0:32:200:32:23

Even the referee said it was the most dramatic fight

0:32:230:32:27

he'd ever refereed.

0:32:270:32:28

We were throwing big bombs. We both wanted to be winners.

0:32:280:32:32

Seconds from the end of round nine,

0:32:320:32:35

Eubank took the fight and Nigel's belt.

0:32:350:32:38

I didn't have a game plan. He had a game plan and what he'd done worked,

0:32:380:32:42

and I've got to take my hat off to him for that.

0:32:420:32:44

Which is very hard, but I will.

0:32:440:32:47

The fight went down as a classic,

0:32:470:32:49

but for Nigel, it was a devastating loss.

0:32:490:32:52

It wasn't even about...losing, it was that pride thing.

0:32:520:32:57

-It was that pride thing.

-It got personal?

0:32:570:32:59

Yeah, it got very personal, it was like,

0:32:590:33:02

"I told you this man was beneath me."

0:33:020:33:05

-You know how he talked.

-Is that what he said?

0:33:050:33:07

That's how he is. So it was very personal.

0:33:070:33:09

Eubank, that one really rankled him. He still had to beat him,

0:33:090:33:13

he had that fire in his belly, he had to beat him.

0:33:130:33:16

It was another three years before the Benn/Eubank rematch.

0:33:170:33:21

It was one of the most anticipated and biggest

0:33:210:33:24

British boxing events ever staged.

0:33:240:33:27

He's beaten me, and I want to even the score.

0:33:280:33:31

You know, he prepared like the champion, and I didn't.

0:33:310:33:34

And I paid the price. Badly.

0:33:340:33:37

We now step aside to let the main event begin.

0:33:370:33:39

Enjoy the fight, good night.

0:33:390:33:41

The Dark Destroyer, introducing Nigel Benn!

0:33:420:33:48

I remember, I saved up, I think I paid £70 from my ticket.

0:33:500:33:54

-It really did stoke up the nation.

-Mm-hm.

0:33:540:33:57

-Everybody seemed to have watched it.

-Absolutely, yeah.

0:33:570:34:00

Half a billion people worldwide.

0:34:000:34:02

£70, I mean, I was only about 15 or something like that.

0:34:020:34:06

-We made a million each.

-Did you?

0:34:060:34:09

-In that one fight?

-Yeah, in that one fight. One fight, yeah.

0:34:090:34:13

£70, I thought I'm going to have a belting seat here, I'm going to see

0:34:130:34:16

every punch, and I wasn't. I was at the back, I needed binoculars.

0:34:160:34:19

They were just like two little one pence pieces in the ring.

0:34:190:34:22

But just the atmosphere...

0:34:240:34:26

You know, Nigel went in there, you know, being so aggressive

0:34:270:34:30

and he put his heart on his sleeve and he went for the knockout.

0:34:300:34:34

I think most people thought that Nigel did the better work

0:34:370:34:41

by maybe just a round or two.

0:34:410:34:43

Oh, it's really livening up now. They had to do that.

0:34:460:34:49

I won, but I got a point deducted because they said I hit him low.

0:34:490:34:55

Oh, yes, another low punch there.

0:34:570:34:59

I think he might take a point away there.

0:34:590:35:01

But if you see him, he actually wears his shorts up to here,

0:35:010:35:04

not under his belly button.

0:35:040:35:07

After a thrilling final round, the bout was declared a draw.

0:35:070:35:12

It wasn't a bad decision, because it was that close.

0:35:120:35:15

This fight was a very close fight and I had it as a draw.

0:35:150:35:20

I still won it anyway, but it went down as a draw,

0:35:200:35:22

so I take it as a draw.

0:35:220:35:24

Nigel was now a national celebrity.

0:35:250:35:28

Could you repeat that, please?

0:35:280:35:30

LAUGHTER

0:35:300:35:32

Outside the ring, he was about to meet his match.

0:35:320:35:36

Hi, my name is Carolyne and I met Nigel in a nightclub.

0:35:360:35:40

Although I didn't know who he was, I thought he was a real knockout.

0:35:400:35:44

I saw him across the dance floor, if you like.

0:35:440:35:48

And I noticed his eyes.

0:35:480:35:50

So I thought, wow, he's got really nice eyes.

0:35:500:35:53

When I saw her, I actually gave her a rose. I gave her a rose.

0:35:530:35:58

It was quite romantic. But I lost the rose.

0:35:580:36:02

Carolyne was like me, we just loved the rave music at the time.

0:36:040:36:08

We just like clubbing, both of us, and we talked for hours.

0:36:080:36:13

And then we, um...we were on the phone all the time.

0:36:130:36:17

She didn't know who I was.

0:36:170:36:20

I think, looking back, that possibly interested him

0:36:200:36:26

because I was not in his face,

0:36:260:36:30

I was not...all over Nigel.

0:36:300:36:33

I'm trying to be like... I'm trying to kiss her and all that,

0:36:330:36:37

and she's, "No, no, what are you doing?"

0:36:370:36:40

Because I've always had that with other women.

0:36:400:36:43

I was very forward. But actually, "No, no, no."

0:36:430:36:47

I definitely was not interested in Nigel Benn,

0:36:470:36:52

the celebrity, if you like.

0:36:520:36:54

I don't even know if he was a celebrity when I met him.

0:36:540:36:57

So I still... You know, we just got on, we just laughed and laughed

0:36:570:37:01

and we were more friends, which was more important than anything else.

0:37:010:37:05

When she found out who I was, she kept me quiet for two years.

0:37:050:37:11

-She kept me quiet for two years.

-So nobody knew she was seeing you?

0:37:110:37:15

No-one knew she was seeing me because my name was Rob.

0:37:150:37:19

Oh, no, that is so embarrassing!

0:37:190:37:22

-My name was Rob.

-She said, "Oh, I'm seeing Rob tonight."

-Robert.

0:37:240:37:27

It all sounds silly now, I was 20.

0:37:270:37:30

So I didn't want my friends to...

0:37:300:37:34

think I'd changed because I was dating Nigel.

0:37:340:37:38

So I just gave him the name Rob.

0:37:380:37:40

Two years.

0:37:400:37:42

Carolyne hid her relationship with Nigel,

0:37:440:37:47

but she made no secret of her feelings about his job in the ring.

0:37:470:37:51

I couldn't bear to watch Nigel fight,

0:37:510:37:53

but I'd go to the fights and I'd sit front row

0:37:530:37:56

or wherever they'd sit me,

0:37:560:37:58

but I didn't actually ever watch the fight.

0:37:580:38:00

I'd be looking down or have something in my hand the whole time.

0:38:000:38:04

I'd go in case anything ever happened.

0:38:040:38:08

And something did happen.

0:38:090:38:11

On 25th February 1995, Carolyne had a ringside seat for Nigel's

0:38:130:38:19

fight against the American Gerald McClellan, known as The G-man.

0:38:190:38:23

And McClellan was the bookmakers' favourite.

0:38:240:38:27

At that time,

0:38:310:38:32

McClellan was knocking people out left, right and centre.

0:38:320:38:35

I'd been watching him for five years and I thought to myself,

0:38:350:38:38

this guy's going to be one of the superstars.

0:38:380:38:40

-He's a tough guy.

-Yeah.

-Gerald McClellan, the mini Mike Tyson.

0:38:400:38:45

And everyone had me to be...

0:38:450:38:47

knocked out within round one to round three.

0:38:470:38:51

From the Sun, the Mirror, Today, the Telegraph, the Observer,

0:38:510:38:56

every single one.

0:38:560:38:57

-I was annoyed.

-Yeah.

0:38:590:39:01

I always knew Nigel had a chance,

0:39:010:39:02

but I couldn't see him beating the guy.

0:39:020:39:05

Even brother John was nervous about Nigel getting hurt.

0:39:050:39:10

I might be a little more straight with you.

0:39:100:39:12

I remember, about a week before the fight,

0:39:120:39:15

I went to Nigel and said,

0:39:150:39:17

"Nigel, do yourself a favour, Nige, give your belt up."

0:39:170:39:20

He turned round to me, give me such a look, he went,

0:39:200:39:23

"You know something, John? Not a hope in hell."

0:39:230:39:26

I looked at him.

0:39:280:39:29

I didn't have no fear at all, absolutely no fear whatsoever.

0:39:290:39:33

The day of that fight, the whole day, I had a headache,

0:39:330:39:36

I was just stressed out, absolutely stressed out.

0:39:360:39:39

That atmosphere was evil, and the people,

0:39:390:39:42

they were just wanting to see blood.

0:39:420:39:46

He hit me and then he hit me again,

0:39:470:39:50

but I felt all the ligaments in my neck just stretch and I went out.

0:39:500:39:55

He knocked me out of the ring, out. Out on the canvas.

0:39:550:39:58

Bump, bump, bang.

0:39:580:40:00

Nigel's gone. He's gone, his face is cut, his cheek's cut.

0:40:000:40:04

And he's knocked him straight through the rope. Absolutely gone.

0:40:040:40:07

He did, he followed onto the table

0:40:070:40:10

where all the commentators were, so we pushed him back in again.

0:40:100:40:12

I mean, he just bashed the grind out of me in the first round.

0:40:120:40:16

But this is what happened.

0:40:160:40:18

Now, something in my subconscious, I don't know what's gone on,

0:40:180:40:23

because after that, you watch the second round,

0:40:230:40:26

I'm chasing him around.

0:40:260:40:29

He'd just given me a good hiding in the first round,

0:40:290:40:32

but now I'm chasing him around.

0:40:320:40:34

He rose from the ashes, and what a performance!

0:40:340:40:36

There's something inside me that I didn't even know existed.

0:40:360:40:40

The amount of bravery and the guts that he showed was remarkable.

0:40:400:40:47

I could hear the power in the punches, it was unbelievable,

0:40:470:40:50

one of the best performances by a British fighter of all time.

0:40:500:40:53

The fight ended in round ten when McClellan dropped to one knee.

0:40:550:41:00

What happened next turned what should have been

0:41:000:41:02

a famous victory into tragedy.

0:41:020:41:05

McClellan collapsed in the ring

0:41:060:41:08

after being stopped in the 10th round.

0:41:080:41:10

Moments later, a large team of doctors and paramedics jumped in

0:41:100:41:13

and struggled for 15 minutes in the ring to resuscitate him.

0:41:130:41:16

He was taken to hospital

0:41:160:41:17

for an operation to remove a blood clot from his brain.

0:41:170:41:20

It's too early yet to say whether there's going to be any

0:41:200:41:23

long-term disability or any sign of damage as a result of this bleeding.

0:41:230:41:28

It is in fact too early to say yet

0:41:280:41:30

whether he's going to survive this blood clot or not.

0:41:300:41:33

-You went to see him in hospital.

-Yeah.

0:41:350:41:38

I remember kissing him on the hand and saying sorry.

0:41:380:41:40

And that was it.

0:41:400:41:42

McClellan was in a coma for 11 days.

0:41:440:41:47

He survived, but suffered extensive and permanent brain damage.

0:41:470:41:52

I came out with a damaged knee, damaged jaw,

0:41:520:41:54

and a shadow on my brain.

0:41:540:41:55

He came out paralysed, blind, 80% deaf, and in a wheelchair.

0:41:550:42:00

-That's a terrible outcome, isn't it?

-It was a very terrible outcome.

0:42:010:42:04

And that's not what you box for.

0:42:040:42:06

No, it's not what we box for, but it's was just... It happens.

0:42:060:42:10

The fight was horrible, and the outcome was just heartbreaking.

0:42:100:42:16

No, you don't ever think

0:42:160:42:17

that something like that is ever going to happen.

0:42:170:42:20

I've been in a tragic fight.

0:42:200:42:24

One of my opponents died in 1983.

0:42:240:42:28

And you are changed inexorably.

0:42:300:42:33

You can never be the same again.

0:42:330:42:36

It doesn't mean that you can't throw punches,

0:42:370:42:40

it doesn't mean that you can't knock somebody out and hurt them.

0:42:400:42:43

But it leaves an indelible mark on you.

0:42:430:42:46

Something in the back of your mind...

0:42:510:42:53

..always makes you hesitate.

0:42:550:42:57

Just a moment's hesitation,

0:42:570:42:59

and that's all it takes to get knocked out yourself.

0:42:590:43:02

You're never quite the same again.

0:43:020:43:04

It just... You just aren't.

0:43:040:43:06

Nigel fought five times more before announcing his retirement in 1996.

0:43:080:43:14

He looked to a new future with Carolyne

0:43:150:43:18

to match his glittering boxing career of 12 years.

0:43:180:43:21

But there was to be no fairy-tale ending.

0:43:210:43:23

-So, Carolyne, she's the one for you.

-Absolutely.

0:43:250:43:28

She stood by me through thick and thin.

0:43:280:43:30

She stood firm, and she knew I had a lot of issues as well.

0:43:300:43:33

She knew I had a lot of issues

0:43:330:43:36

and you know what? She was willing to work through them.

0:43:360:43:39

There were so many affairs in that...

0:43:390:43:41

-Your affairs?

-Yes.

0:43:410:43:43

Whatever did you do that for?

0:43:430:43:45

Because...

0:43:450:43:47

Sometimes a man's looking for love.

0:43:470:43:50

And I didn't care where I got the love from.

0:43:510:43:54

It was an addiction.

0:43:540:43:56

Mm.

0:43:560:43:57

HE EXHALES DEEPLY

0:43:570:43:59

-Are you all right?

-Mm-hm.

0:43:590:44:01

Wow.

0:44:040:44:05

Just filling some kind of void in you?

0:44:080:44:11

No, I don't think a void. It's not what I've gone through,

0:44:110:44:15

it's what I've done, because I couldn't do things right.

0:44:150:44:19

I'm struggling.

0:44:190:44:20

I was hurting a woman I loved and I didn't know how to break that.

0:44:230:44:27

I was battling a lot of issues in my life.

0:44:270:44:30

People think that I'm strong, I'm very weak.

0:44:300:44:34

When yet another story came out in the newspapers about an affair,

0:44:350:44:40

Carolyne confronted Nigel.

0:44:400:44:42

-You and Carolyne had had a terrible row at home.

-Yeah.

0:44:420:44:46

Yeah, we had a terrible row

0:44:470:44:49

and I remember driving off in our black Grand Cherokee,

0:44:490:44:57

I had a hosepipe, she tried to stop me, and I just cried.

0:44:570:45:02

Tortured by guilt, Nigel drove to a quiet corner of Streatham Common.

0:45:020:45:10

And I'm there and I was crying.

0:45:100:45:13

I don't know if I wanted to die.

0:45:150:45:17

I think I just wanted someone to say,

0:45:170:45:19

"You know what? You're going to be all right."

0:45:190:45:21

And I remember driving home and that was the lowest point of my life.

0:45:240:45:30

Carolyne was also struggling and feeling increasingly unable to cope.

0:45:320:45:38

I'd dropped my children off to school and there was

0:45:380:45:41

a group of mums outside and I don't think they were gossiping,

0:45:410:45:44

I just don't think they knew what to say to me.

0:45:440:45:46

And I walked the kids into school and I came out

0:45:460:45:52

and for the first time, oddly,

0:45:520:45:53

I noticed a big Church of England church opposite the school

0:45:530:45:57

and I sat at the back of this empty church for about three hours

0:45:570:46:01

and I just cried.

0:46:010:46:03

They weren't tears of feeling sorry for myself, cos I'd passed that.

0:46:050:46:09

They were tears of, "I need help and I can't do this."

0:46:090:46:14

She went in there and she said, "If you're real up there,

0:46:140:46:18

"do you want to help me down here?

0:46:180:46:20

"And if you do, I'll worship you for the rest of my life."

0:46:200:46:24

And I honestly heard, not an audible voice,

0:46:240:46:26

but I heard God say to me, "Now you've come to me, I will help you."

0:46:260:46:31

And that... I tell you, I felt like...

0:46:320:46:35

We hear it, but I've never heard this before,

0:46:350:46:38

I felt like the biggest rucksack had been taken off my back.

0:46:380:46:41

I drove home to Nigel and we hadn't spoke for weeks.

0:46:410:46:45

The whole atmosphere in the house was horrible for weeks.

0:46:450:46:49

I'm knocking on our door, didn't even open it with the key,

0:46:490:46:53

just banging on it and he opens the door, and I said...

0:46:530:46:56

"Jesus says it's going to be all right,"

0:46:560:46:59

and I'm like, "OK, OK, all right, yeah, OK."

0:46:590:47:05

And he looked at me like I was mad

0:47:050:47:09

and he actually looked at me with such fear of,

0:47:090:47:12

"What have I done to her?"

0:47:120:47:13

I thought, like, "Man, I've really ruined this girl,"

0:47:130:47:16

because I didn't know who Jesus was.

0:47:160:47:18

Didn't know who Jesus was, because I was always in the other corner.

0:47:180:47:22

I always get emotional when I speak about it because it's real.

0:47:220:47:26

And then she'd go to church and I'd go to church with her

0:47:260:47:30

and she'd lift up holy hands in praise.

0:47:300:47:34

And I'd be like, "Oh, that's what... OK, yeah, yeah."

0:47:340:47:37

I'm just doing what she's doing.

0:47:370:47:39

I thought, "She's a Christian, I must be a Christian,"

0:47:390:47:42

but it doesn't work like that.

0:47:420:47:44

I think, in the beginning, Nigel wanted to make the marriage work,

0:47:440:47:49

so he just plodded along, so he just came to church.

0:47:490:47:54

I'd read my Bible to him and he'd understand what I was reading

0:47:540:47:57

but I'd keep reading and it obviously wasn't real to him,

0:47:570:48:01

then, at that moment.

0:48:010:48:03

I was just following my wife,

0:48:030:48:05

but didn't understand what it really meant.

0:48:050:48:08

In 2000, Nigel and Carolyne moved with the family to Majorca.

0:48:080:48:14

They became friends with Cheryl,

0:48:140:48:17

pastor of a church called The Vineyard.

0:48:170:48:20

To all intents and purposes,

0:48:210:48:23

their relationship seemed to be, er, good...apparently.

0:48:230:48:27

And they seemed to be people who knew and loved the Lord,

0:48:270:48:33

but I have to be totally honest, I really did feel at that time

0:48:330:48:39

that things were probably not as right as they should be.

0:48:390:48:43

Nigel was taking Bible classes with Cheryl for two years

0:48:430:48:47

before, one day, he came out with a startling confession.

0:48:470:48:52

I said, "I've been having an affair."

0:48:520:48:54

I didn't even want to say it, but it came out. It came out.

0:48:540:48:59

She said, "Have you told your wife?" I said no.

0:48:590:49:02

She said, "Well, you'd better go and tell your wife."

0:49:020:49:05

Nigel was all over the place.

0:49:050:49:07

I mean, you know, he wanted to be forgiven

0:49:070:49:10

but he understood that this was not something

0:49:100:49:12

that could now just be forgiven just like that.

0:49:120:49:14

There needed to be a working through in all this.

0:49:140:49:17

So all my life now... I'm at a crunch point.

0:49:170:49:22

Carolyne had been through this all too many times before

0:49:220:49:26

and now this man had betrayed her again.

0:49:260:49:30

She was lovely, Pastor Cheryl, she became a confidante,

0:49:300:49:35

someone I'd really talk to about everything that was going on,

0:49:350:49:38

cos I didn't have that. I didn't trust anybody.

0:49:380:49:41

We prayed, we talked things through and in the end,

0:49:410:49:45

I had the idea, "Well, how would you feel, Carolyne,

0:49:450:49:49

"if he came to stay with us and perhaps we could work this through?"

0:49:490:49:55

She needed space to be able to think things through

0:49:550:50:01

and I always remember Carolyne's answer, "Just get rid of him.

0:50:010:50:05

"Just get rid of him."

0:50:050:50:07

So Nigel agreed to leave the family home

0:50:070:50:10

and live for a year in Cheryl's house.

0:50:100:50:13

We've to get back to basics of who the real Nigel Benn was,

0:50:130:50:19

because Nigel Benn had become the celebrity that had been

0:50:190:50:25

promoted by the media, and that isn't who God created him to be.

0:50:250:50:33

Nigel was put under a strict regime.

0:50:330:50:38

Whatever we did, Nigel did with us.

0:50:380:50:41

It's because Nigel was always, before that,

0:50:410:50:44

going where he wanted to go, doing what he wanted to do

0:50:440:50:47

and never being responsible or accountable to anybody.

0:50:470:50:52

They stripped me of everything.

0:50:520:50:54

His way of life - his house, his swimming pool,

0:50:540:50:58

all those things, his family.

0:50:580:51:02

I couldn't drive my Porsche or my Escalade.

0:51:020:51:06

He had to drive our cars, which were nowhere near like that.

0:51:060:51:09

A 25- to 30-year-old G reg Escort with wind-down windows.

0:51:090:51:13

And the only thing I was allowed to watch in the house

0:51:130:51:17

was Little House On The Prairie.

0:51:170:51:19

Which he became addicted to, I might add.

0:51:190:51:21

I've got from season one right down to season ten, I've got them all.

0:51:210:51:26

During the year, it was very tricky at times.

0:51:260:51:30

I'm very volatile, and Nigel is also very volatile

0:51:300:51:35

and there were times when we were in disagreement.

0:51:350:51:41

It was like, "How dare you?!" And I'd cry, I'd really cry.

0:51:410:51:46

"How dare you, Nigel?! How dare you?"

0:51:460:51:52

Not too long ago I was knocking people out for a living

0:51:520:51:55

and yet I'm petrified, I was really...

0:51:550:51:57

I don't know what happened through the whole year,

0:51:570:52:00

I was just petrified, I was really scared.

0:52:000:52:02

She scared him, yeah.

0:52:020:52:04

And how amazing.

0:52:040:52:06

Do you know, honestly, if God would have used a man,

0:52:060:52:10

any man, Nigel would not have come under that authority or respect,

0:52:100:52:15

so God used a 63-year-old woman

0:52:150:52:19

to break Nigel down to who God created Nigel to be.

0:52:190:52:24

It was like God took me back to school,

0:52:240:52:26

my whole life started changing, you know,

0:52:260:52:29

what I've done, I've accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour.

0:52:290:52:33

He's my role model, as it says in James 1:26.

0:52:330:52:37

If we say we abide in him, we ought to walk in the same manner as him.

0:52:370:52:40

He's my role model so I've got to walk like him.

0:52:400:52:42

During that year,

0:52:420:52:44

Nigel finally began to come to terms with the events

0:52:440:52:47

that had changed his life aged eight, the death of his brother.

0:52:470:52:51

His brother's death was very, very profound in his life

0:52:510:52:56

and he needed to get rid of all that

0:52:560:52:59

that had happened to him as a child and then, again,

0:52:590:53:04

as a celebrity, so, yes, he did, he needed to talk those things out.

0:53:040:53:11

So everything about the issues with my brother

0:53:110:53:13

was what I was really battling with.

0:53:130:53:16

Wow, OK, and I was really angry for my brother,

0:53:160:53:19

and James 1:20 talks about, "Be quick to listen and slow to speak,

0:53:190:53:25

"for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God."

0:53:250:53:28

Wow, so I think, "OK, I've got to lose that anger."

0:53:280:53:32

If you go to Matthew 5, it says,

0:53:320:53:34

"If someone slaps you in the cheek, give them the other side also."

0:53:340:53:39

I'm working on that one. I'm working. We're getting there.

0:53:390:53:43

Nigel and Carolyne left Majorca in 2012

0:53:430:53:47

and have now settled in Australia.

0:53:470:53:50

Nigel's wild past is behind him.

0:53:500:53:53

As for boxing, he's now mentor to his son Conor,

0:53:530:53:57

who followed his father into the ring.

0:53:570:53:59

He gives me advice on boxing but he's more concerned

0:53:590:54:02

about the partying, the drinking, the drugs, the girls, you know.

0:54:020:54:05

My dad says, "Stay away from it, son."

0:54:050:54:07

You know, it didn't benefit him in any way.

0:54:070:54:09

The main thing that he always says is, "I've been there, done that,

0:54:090:54:12

"I don't want you to go down that path," so it's like, "OK, Dad!"

0:54:120:54:17

Well, the Nigel I first knew was a rogue, er, womaniser, drinker.

0:54:170:54:24

Now he's gone completely the other way.

0:54:240:54:26

I've never seen a man change so much.

0:54:260:54:28

He's a better person, ten times a better person.

0:54:280:54:31

He worked so hard, he really worked so hard to give us the best life.

0:54:310:54:37

You know, what better man to have in my corner

0:54:370:54:40

and tell me about my day-to-day life? You know, it's a blessing.

0:54:400:54:44

He's just amazing. He is, he's my best friend.

0:54:440:54:48

Your heart is clean, your faith is clearly pouring out of you,

0:54:480:54:53

what's next?

0:54:530:54:55

What's next for me and my wife,

0:54:550:54:58

we do volunteer work at Hillsong Church in Australia.

0:54:580:55:02

Now, Hillsong Church is colossal.

0:55:020:55:06

Hillsong is a global church

0:55:060:55:08

belonging to the Pentecostal tradition.

0:55:080:55:11

# As I stand in your presence... #

0:55:110:55:16

It's known for its worship music,

0:55:160:55:18

and the community work for which Nigel and Carolyne volunteer.

0:55:180:55:22

# ..As I look to the heavens... #

0:55:240:55:29

And you know what it is?

0:55:290:55:30

I have more enjoyment doing that than any world titles.

0:55:300:55:35

I feel blessed, I feel honoured

0:55:350:55:37

and privileged that God would use me to go and serve,

0:55:370:55:40

and it's all about serving.

0:55:400:55:41

Me and my wife love it, we come out, of it,

0:55:410:55:44

"Wow, that was a good day. Thank you, Jesus."

0:55:440:55:47

So that's how blessed we feel, that I'm doing that,

0:55:470:55:50

because the other work was all about drugs, sex and rock 'n' roll

0:55:500:55:54

and everything, partying, and all that.

0:55:540:55:56

I'm glad I went through that to get where I am now.

0:55:560:55:59

And that's who I am now.

0:55:590:56:02

And what will you be doing for Christmas?

0:56:020:56:04

What will I be doing?

0:56:040:56:06

I'll just be spending time giving thanks and praise

0:56:060:56:09

for what he's done in our lives.

0:56:090:56:11

He said, "If you draw near to me, I will draw near to you."

0:56:110:56:15

And so I stand close to him. Once I'm close to him, I can't go wrong.

0:56:150:56:20

Nigel, I'm going to give you a little Christmas present

0:56:200:56:23

before you go. Thank you so much.

0:56:230:56:26

You've given us a wonderful, wonderful conversation.

0:56:260:56:28

This is for you.

0:56:280:56:30

You're allowed to open it now. Have a look at it.

0:56:300:56:33

It's sentimental.

0:56:330:56:36

-Oh, yeah.

-Shake it up. And what does it say on it?

0:56:370:56:42

-It says "peace".

-Peace.

0:56:430:56:46

-That surpasses all understanding.

-Yes.

-He's peace.

0:56:460:56:49

-Thank you very much.

-Oh, bless you. Mwah.

-Mwah.

-Happy Christmas.

0:56:490:56:54

-And to you.

-To you and all your family.

-Thank you. That's brilliant.

0:56:540:56:58

Have that in the Australian sunshine and that will be beautiful.

0:56:580:57:02

I think this time of year is a very easy time to be aware

0:57:070:57:11

of the dark things in your life and the dark sides of your life

0:57:110:57:16

and the things that are wrong with your life as Christmas approaches.

0:57:160:57:19

I don't know why that should be but it does,

0:57:190:57:22

so if you're someone who's facing problems going into Christmas

0:57:220:57:26

and perhaps into the New Year,

0:57:260:57:28

hang on to what Nigel was talking about

0:57:280:57:31

because he has been to the depths,

0:57:310:57:35

and look how happy and free and peaceful he is now.

0:57:350:57:38

And if you have a faith in God, as Nigel has,

0:57:380:57:42

then maybe God is in your corner.

0:57:420:57:46

BELL RINGS

0:57:460:57:48

-What a year you have had.

-A very busy year, yes.

0:57:480:57:49

Next week, I'm meeting Michael Gove.

0:57:490:57:52

The former Conservative Cabinet member talks candidly

0:57:520:57:56

about the highs after the Brexit vote...

0:57:560:57:59

I was working a bit after four when one of my friends rang me

0:57:590:58:03

to say, "Michael, we've won,"

0:58:030:58:04

and I remember saying, "Well, I suppose I'd better get up, then."

0:58:040:58:07

..and the lows, after his failed bid to become prime minister...

0:58:070:58:11

No matter how often I look back on those events,

0:58:120:58:15

I can't replay those events.

0:58:150:58:18

..and the value of having religious faith in public life.

0:58:180:58:22

Some of the people with whom I worked are impelled

0:58:230:58:27

by their religious faith to try to find the best in others.

0:58:270:58:30

# Break upon my praise

0:58:300:58:34

# As I sing of your love

0:58:340:58:38

# Holy Spirit fire

0:58:380:58:41

# Burn within my soul

0:58:410:58:45

# As I call on your name

0:58:450:58:49

# As I call on your name... #

0:58:520:58:56

Fern Britton meets boxing legend and two-time world champion Nigel Benn. He charts his glittering career but also shares his more troubled personal journey, one that took him from a lifestyle of womanising and drug-taking to the depths of despair and near suicide, before his conversion to Christianity ten years ago changed his life completely.