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Glyn Rhodes "I just wanted to take my brain out of my head for a day"

Boxing trainer Glyn Rhodes tells Now Then about coming to terms with the sudden death of Scott Westgarth and the importance of men speaking up about mental health. 

A smiling white man wearing a suit makes a fist

Glyn Rhodes

Mental health jabs away at you. It takes an agile mind to duck and swerve out of life’s problems and come up fighting. Now boxing trainer Glyn Rhodes has faced his fair share of fights, but the ‘chaos’ of one night in 2018 saw him battling with himself outside of the ring.

Scott Westgarth was at the peak of his powers as he held his arms aloft inside the Doncaster Dome. The 31-year-old was one win away from becoming English light heavyweight champion. But the effects of his gruelling ten-round bout with Dec Spellman would change everything.

Rhodes, Westgarth's trainer, watched on in shock as the events of the night unfolded at a startling rate. Westgarth won the match but then collapsed in his dressing room. He died later in hospital.

A smiling white man who is topless and simulating a punch

Scott Westgarth

Glyn Rhodes

"I went from being sky high to rock bottom, within four hours," Rhodes tells Now Then.

"It wasn’t just the fact that you’re losing a fighter, there was a lot after. Family trying to sue people, I was interviewed twice by Doncaster Police. Suddenly you start to think, did I do something wrong? Was he dehydrated?”

The pace at which the extent of Westgarth’s injuries became apparent has a grip on Rhodes to this day. From defeating Spellman, to complaining of neck pain, to ultimately passing away; there was little time to react or reflect.

"You can imagine when you’re walking into that ring and your fighter wins, you’re buzzing. Then all of a sudden you come down, and it’s a crash.

"It was chaos, absolute chaos, and I think that’s when I started struggling. Though you didn’t know it at the time."

The nature of Westgarth's passing led Rhodes to a headspace from which he struggled to recover. Just over three out of four suicides (74%) are by men according to the Samaritans, yet there’s often a stigma around talking about mental health among men.

Rhodes tells me he wants to encourage more men to open up and talk about their feelings.

Speaking of his own experiences, he says, "I just wanted to take my brain out of my head for a day and put it on the side. In my head it was like an LP going round and round and getting stuck in the same place. And that’s what it was like 24/7.

"Even though I was going to the gym and functioning, when I got home at night that’s when I was struggling, and people didn’t know. You never know what’s going on inside someone’s head."

But, having tackled his mental health at the source, he arrived at a place where he could comfortable discussing the events of that fateful night.

"Talking about it is not something I could do. (But) I had a friend, and he said, 'Glyn you’ve got to talk to somebody, you’ve got to see a psychiatrist'."

Many men struggle to ask for help if they are struggling with their emotions, and Rhodes was no different. He found himself constantly picking up and putting down the phone to a psychiatrist he found in the Yellow Pages.

"I kept building up the courage to call, then putting the phone down.

"I kicked it around for a while, but then I rang her [the psychiatrist], and she said come and see us. And I felt relieved, cause maybe now I was on the way to getting better.

"It got me to deal with what I was feeling, why it happened. She told me not to push it away, because it will just keep coming back."

Glyn continues to train boxers out of his gym, The Sheffield Boxing Centre, but ultimately Scott’s untimely passing will stick with him forever.

"I’ve got a good life, the gym’s doing well. But sometimes it comes over you like a wave. I’ll see an ambulance with sirens on and it’ll be like I’m back in the ambulance with Scott."

But Glyn has a message to any men struggling with their mental health: "If you’re having any problems, don’t be afraid to speak to anybody."

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