AN INSPIRATIONAL boxer has revealed how he turned his life around after becoming “sick and tired” of taking drugs and being sent to prison.

At the age of 16, Steven Ferguson was getting into trouble with the police and was already addicted to drugs. Now 29, the Neilston man is hoping to become a professional boxer following years of dedication to the sport.

He has recently won two titles thanks to the help of dedicated coaches at North Glasgow ABC Boxing club.

Irvine Times:

The Cathkin High pupil left school aged 15 and had started taking drugs as young as 11.

“I was addicted to drugs when I was 16, and before that, I was smoking cannabis every day,” Steven said.

“The drugs got worse as I turned 15. It was alcohol, ecstasy, valium, and any kind of prescription medication I could take.

“When I was younger my mum and dad were caught up in addiction as well.

“Back then I thought I took drugs because they made me feel good, but really, when I was taking them, it was taking away the pain of emotional traumas that I had.”

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Steven, who grew up in Rutherglen, became involved in violence and it wasn’t long before he was sentenced to time behind bars – aged 17.

He said: “It was a shock, but I kind of expected it. I knew it was coming with the frame of mind I had at the time.

“Like most people, I told everyone I didn’t care, but really, I was scared, I didn’t know what to expect. I was worried and didn’t want to be there, but it didn’t stop me from going back again.

“In prison, I would just do what I was doing and get what I needed to get. You could still get certain drugs.”

After five years of living in and out of jail – with the longest sentence of 22 months – Steven became determined to change his life.

He said: “Since I was 17, I had been trying to get help. I would go to alcohol and drug counsellors and that kind of stuff because I knew my mental health was getting worse as well.

“I had made attempts to take my own life because I was in quite a dark place. I had been in and out of hospitals as well, due to taking deliberate overdoses and self-harm.

Irvine Times:

“At the time, I didn’t want to be living anymore. If I was in prison my life would get better because I would get healthier. But by the time I was back out again, I was always going back to the same cycle of taking drugs and doing all the things I was doing, and it would just lead me back into that hole.

“I worked with this woman, and she would come out and see me when I got out of prison. She was the only person that stuck by me and would come see me every week consistently, regardless of the state I was in.”

The woman took Steven to different places to try and get help, but they felt doors were repeatedly being shut on him.

He added: “One day I got to a stage where I was sick and tired, and I said to her ‘I can’t do this anymore’ and how I would like to try to find somewhere I could go.

“She found me a treatment centre in Greenock, and I went there.”

Irvine Times:

In 2014, Steven step foot inside Jericho House and ended up spending 17 months in rehabilitation.

“I went there under the illusion I would just stop taking drugs and my life would get better,” he said.

“But I realised I had a lot more issues I had to deal with before I could maintain sobriety and abstain from drugs myself.”

After leaving in 2016, Steven, unfortunately, went back to substance abuse but then spent another 10 months in the centre and hasn’t looked back since.

He said: “They helped me with a lot of things and my full life changed.

“They would take me once a week to a boxing group in a gym and it was a therapy thing – you would go and let off a bit of steam. A guy would take you on the punchbags and the pads and he used to say to me ‘you maybe have something here if you stick with this’.

“It was only once a week, but I enjoyed it. It kind of took me away, it was an escape at first.”

After getting his life back on track, Steven, who is now a dad of two, began taking fitness classes at a gym in North Glasgow before showing his interest in boxing classes.

“Since I started, the coaches have stuck by me through everything,” Steven said.

Irvine Times:

“They know about my past and they push me to my full potential. Since I’ve been there, I’ve been successful in winning Scottish Elite titles. I’ve won two titles in the last couple of years.

“For me, it’s a massive achievement and for the club, it’s a great achievement. It gives me a whole purpose; I think to myself if I never had my family and boxing then anything could happen.”

Steven, who worked as a youth development worker but got made redundant due to the pandemic, now works as a hospital porter full-time in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

He goes to boxing training every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as well as helping with the children’s classes.

When speaking to the Glasgow Times, Steven wanted to thank all his coaches, The Ashgill Recreation Centre for their ongoing support towards the club, as well as the club’s sponsor Houlihan Pharmacy.

Irvine Times:

Meanwhile, local councillor Robert Mooney praised North Glasgow ABC Boxing.

He said: “The club is vital for the well-being and mental health of many local young men.

“John Reid who runs the club does an amazing job for the community and should be congratulated for giving many of these young men the opportunity to make the most of themselves through very difficult times, and for many, keeping them out of the reaches of drugs and crime.

“The young men who take part should all be proud of what they have achieved.”

After winning the Scottish Novice Championships, the Scottish Elite Flyweight, a bronze medal at the British Championships, a silver medal at a Boxing Cup in Portugal, and more recently, the Scottish Elite Bantamweight Championships, Steven is thinking about going professional.

Irvine Times:

He said: “I’ve got another fight in Newcastle on June 10 and by the time the end of the year is out, I’m maybe thinking about turning professional to see how it goes – I’m not getting any younger so I’d rather live without any regrets.”