Mon, 17 Sept 2018
Bryan Richardson on his wayto beating Rossco Parker at Epsom Racecourse on Saturday
A TALENTED boxer has died after “losing the one fight he couldn’t win” – his battle against depression.
In the ring, 36-year-old Bryan Richardson was dubbed ‘Pitbull’ due to his ferocious fighting style.
However, outside the sport the father-of-three, who worked as a taxi driver in Newbury, was “a gentle giant” who “would do anything for anyone”.
Unbeknown to many, he was fighting his own secret battle, suffering in silence, crippled by low self-esteem and feeling like he didn’t belong.
And tragically, Mr Richardson was found dead on August 17, just weeks before his 37th birthday.
His family believe he took his own life.
Now his devastated mother, Laura Richardson, wants to end the stigma around mental health and get the message out to people that “it’s OK not to be OK”.
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News this week, she said: “I have lost the most important person in my life. My world has been blown apart and nothing will ever replace him.
“He lost his last fight that he’d been struggling with all his life. It was one fight he just could not beat.
“Depression is an evil illness that lives in your head, but runs through every vein in your body.
“When he was at his worst he’d say to me ‘mum, please let me go’, but I couldn’t. I’d just hug him and try and make it better.
“A few weeks before he died he put something out on Facebook that said ‘monsters don’t live under your bed, they live in your head’.
“I just want to get the message out there that it’s OK not to be OK.
“I want to end the stigma so that people who are suffering can talk about it.
“I don’t want him to be forgotten. I want his memory to live on and I want to help other people with mental health problems.”
Mr Richardson made his professional debut in 2013 and has regularly featured on the sports pages of the Newbury Weekly News in recent years.
In 2016 he hit the headlines when he claimed UK Boxing Union’s Super Series London light middleweight belt.
In addition to being a respected boxer, Mr Richardson was also a talented footballer – once attracting attention from both Reading FC and Arsenal – and was also a black belt in karate.
However, despite his considerable sporting success, his illness made him feel like he was not good enough.
Paying tribute to her son, who attended Winchcombe and Trinity schools, Mrs Richardson added: “He was a very special person, with the most contagious laugh. Everybody loved him.
“He was very protective towards his family and loved and adored his children. He was very cuddly and warm – I called him the king of hugs.
“He would help anyone out. I just don’t know how anyone could not like him.
“He was just too nice for this world. They say the good ones die young and it’s true.”
His uncle, Paul Tucker-Richardson, said: “He always gave so much love despite his inner trauma. Even though he had this macho image, he was never afraid to say ‘I love you’.
“I’ve always thought of him as a gentle giant. He had a massive eagerness to live up to the very high expectations he set of himself.
“He was good at everything – professional boxer, good footballer – but it still wasn’t enough.
“This was the one fight he was never going to win, against the poison in his mind.”
One of Mr Richardson’s close friends also paid tribute, saying: “He was the most amazing, caring person to walk this planet and an inspiration to many.”
Since news of Mr Richardson’s death has been posted on Facebook, there has been an outpouring of tributes from friends, family and the boxing community.
The funeral service will be held at St Mary’s Church, Thatcham, at 11.45am tomorrow (Friday).
Mr Richardson’s family have requested no flowers, but have asked that people instead make a donation to the mental health charity, Crisis.
You can do so c/o RC Smallbone Funeral Directors, 37 Pound St, Newbury RG14 6AE.
If you feel you need support, there are a number of organisations that can help, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Samaritans are one such organisation. More details can be found at www.samaritans.org/ or by calling the free helpline on 116 123.