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Brian Magee: 'It shouldn't have taken this pandemic for NHS workers to be appreciated'



Brian Magee

Brian Magee

Brian Magee

Brian Magee

Brian Magee

We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected their daily lives.

Today, we speak to Brian Magee, the  former WBA world super middleweight, European and British boxing champion. He now runs a leisure business in Belfast, Magee Health & Fitness.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: Well thanks. It took a while adjusting to the new routine after the old one involved getting up, going to work and collecting the kids. We have three children Katie, who's 14, Darcey (8) and Stella (5) and the new normal involves home schooling which I leave to my wife, Catherine, although I do a bit of bedtime reading to the youngest girl. I think I am learning more from home schooling than the girls! My mother and sister live in Killyleagh so I haven't been able to see them but we keep in touch.

Q: How have you been affected?

A: Being self employed, my income has dried up completely and unfortunately Catherine, who worked as a flight attendant with Flybe, was made redundant shortly before virus gained a foothold here. I had hundreds of members in the gym but we have had to shut it down to the public and the grants available will only cover some of the losses for a month or two. The bills still have to be paid and it actually costs a lot of money to keep the gym closed with the likes of phone lines, internet, music licensing fees, insurance for gym equipment, public liability insurance all still to be met. I don't want to cancel any of the outgoings because some of them were hard to put into place at the outset.

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: I have set up a community gym page on Facebook and that means I have been kept busy coming up with various exercises which provide a service for gym users and non-users for free and, at the same time, it keeps me fit.

It's about finding a balance between keeping yourself mentally fit and keeping the body fit as well. Stress does take its toll and exercise can take it away. I am also trying to be creative for people who, for example, don't have weights at home. So some of the exercises involve improvisation with the likes of cartons of milk, tins of baked beans, or using the sofa as part of the exercises. It's a good challenge for us as well as personal trainers.

Q: How are you maintaining your morale?

A: In times in times like these, people can lose the will to stay active and I am no different. You can go back to a slight depression and just want to lie in bed all day so this is all about lifting yourself and the best thing to do that is a bit of exercise. One thing in my life that has always come back to me and has served me when times were tough is exercise. It is one the best things for de-stressing.

Q: Where are you drawing your personal strength from now?

A: Hard times don't last but tough people do. This is the thing I preach to the gym members - lead with your mind and your body will follow. That's why I drag myself off the sofa every day and hopefully when they see that I am keeping active, it helps the gym users as well.

This is the good part of social media, which can sometimes get a bad reputation, and in these challenging times, it can shine and keep us all connected.

Q: Is there a book, film or box set you could recommend to stay at home sports fans?

A: I am a big fan of horror stories, especially the vampire series written by Brian Lumley. As far as films go, I have always loved comedies, none more so than those involving Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder. Stir Crazy is particularly funny and a great form of escapism if you are looking to pass a couple of hours. At times like these, you sometimes need a laugh.

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?

A: Before the crisis, I would have often thought how materialistic people were in general and how most of us would tend to think we need things to make our lives better. But in times like these, I look back on my boxing career and when you went to poor countries you saw that some of the happiest people in the world hadn't too many material possessions but, as long as they had food to eat, they were happy. Sometimes having too much is a distraction. If you've got too much, it can take away from other more important things like your kids and family and, above all, being healthy. Finally no-one could fail to be inspired by the wonderful NHS workers. Now we know how important they are even though it's taken this terrible pandemic to see them get the recognition they deserve.

Q: What is the first thing you will do when this is all over?

A: I was planning to go to a Queen tribute gig in Manchester for my birthday next month but it obviously had to be cancelled. So the first thing I'll do is book the same trip for next year as the tour has been rescheduled. I am also a big fan of ACDC so I will be booking a trip to see them, hopefully, in somewhere exotic like Las Vegas!

Q: And your message to sports fans?

A: Your health is your wealth. I have seen it all throughout my life. It doesn't matter how much money you have, if you aren't healthy enough to enjoy it. I also believe that this pandemic has proved to a lot of people how important it is to take care of yourself. Prevention is better than cure so some form of regular exercise throughout your life is important and it's never too late to start.

Belfast Telegraph