Dad strikes blow for the kids...and his health!
A SELF-EMPLOYED landscape gardener, who fell into depression after losing a £25,000-a-year contract, says going to the gym is changing his life – and helping needy children.
Dad-of-three Michael Walsh, 33, started an intense fitness programme two months ago to get in shape for a White Collar Boxing event at Derby's Syn Nightclub on December 18.
As a result, he has lost 1½st and come off anti-depressants by training every day, Monday to Friday.
The sponsorship he is hoping to raise from the boxing event will go to Derby Kids' Club – a charity that provides free holidays for children with cash-strapped parents.
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Mr Walsh, of Waverley Street, Allenton, has found that being active has worked wonders for him.
He said: "I feel like I don't have as much stress or worries at the moment. The reason for that is I'm not sat around thinking about things. I have a goal I want to achieve."
Mr Walsh's problems began in 2008. He said: "I had being doing landscaping for 10 years and my main contract was with the city council, which was worth around £25,000 every year. But then the cuts came in and I lost that contract – it was a lot of money to lose.
"At the same time, my mother became very ill and so couldn't work. I had to financially support my family as well as help my mother with her mortgage, without help from the banks. In the end my mother's house got repossessed.
"It led to me having health issues like high blood pressure, panic attacks and nausea. I wasn't eating well and so my cholesterol went up. I ended up with all sorts of medication but I've come off it now because I've been improving my fitness."
Mr Walsh is looking forward to the White Collar Boxing event. For eight weeks, the participants – who have never boxed before – receive free training at city gyms One Nation and Funkyclubfitness. They must raise a minimum of £100 in sponsorship, before being paired up with one of the other competitors for the 15-bout event.
Mr Walsh, who has so far raised £125, has chosen Derby Kids' Camp because he says is a fantastic cause.
He said: "They took my son Jack to the Peak District and he got to take part in loads of outdoor activities such as camping, canoeing and football.
"I couldn't afford to take him on holiday. Derby Kids' Camp were great and took him for free. I've always wanted to give something back. For every £100 raised, one kid can go on holiday for a week."
The first White Collar Boxing event took place in December 2009 and raised almost £1,000 for the British Heart Foundation.
Organiser Jon Leonard hopes next month's event will be among the best.
He said: "We've got ex-world champion Steve Collins coming to be a guest referee, which means whoever wins their fight will have their hand held up by a boxing legend. We've sold 950 tickets and there's only a few left."
Anyone wanting to sponsor Mr Walsh for the event can call him on 07817 071 292. For tickets, people can call Mr Leonard on 07853 535 251.