There was a conversation the other day where my dad referred to me as ‘his project’. He loves me, and we’re best mates, but the tough love from my parents is on another level. You saw it in that quote in the last column from my mum when she said ‘I saw you on TV and you looked really fat.’ A lot of the responses that I got to that were like ‘Jesus Christ, Eddie, that’s your mum.’
But I’ve been told pretty much my entire life by my own father that I’m a silver spoon kid. I remember my dad would say to me, ‘silver spoon, what do you know? Shut up’ or when I was boxing at age 13 or 14, ‘you can’t fight. Have you seen where you grew up? You’re a wet lettuce.’ I’ve always wanted to prove him wrong.
His biggest fear was probably me being a nepo baby. Growing up from a council estate in Dagenham, he probably looked at kids like me who went to the kind of school I went to and thought I cannot stand you, so he used tough love to drive me.
What I did learn from my dad is if you want to get anywhere in life you have to make sacrifices and you have to work hard. He always tells me: when things get tough go to bed an hour later and get up an hour earlier.
I turned 44 last week, but I didn’t really have any plans. I’ve got friends and we play golf and talk, but, being honest, it’s very rare now that there’s a message on the group chat. I looked at their Instagram and they went to The K Club in Dublin to play golf for three days. All my mates. I wasn’t even invited because they knew I wouldn’t or couldn’t go. But I thought to myself, you’ve made unbelievable sacrifices over the years. Don’t get me wrong, my life’s incredible, but they’re the kinds of things that aren’t even possible, and you miss out on all that kind of stuff.
What I’ve found is fitness and wellbeing is an extension of that. You have to know that you can’t always go out. You have to go to bed earlier and let’s be real, if you really want to get in shape and you really want to change your health and fitness, you can’t have the same social life. When I was growing up, I loved going out with my mates, and we would get hammered. We would have such a laugh, but as your life evolves, there has to come a point where you say, I’ve got to make some changes, but it’s difficult for people, especially if they’re younger than me. I have some people who come to work for me in their 20s and I say to them it’s one or the other. You can still have your big social life and your laughs and do well. But if you want to be a serious player, sooner or later you’re going to have to choose.
The strange thing about fitness is the deeper you get into it, the easier it becomes. That’s the thing I’m learning, and that’s the thing I want people to know.
When I was really overweight, the thought of waking up at five o’clock in the morning and training before my day, having got to some hotel at midnight the night before, I couldn’t do it. Now, I’m up at 4:55am and I’m excited to go and train because I know that I’m going to be so ready for the day, and I’m going to feel great. I’m also going to look great, and I’m going to have loads of energy versus being overweight, turning up being flat – I can always turn it on, but I know deep inside – looking like shit and it just being a spiral.
When I used to finish a day having experienced all that kind of stuff, you think I want to go to the gym and have a healthy dinner? No, I’d be knackered and I’d want to go for a steak, truffle mash, fries, three glasses of red wine, three rolls and some prawns. By the end of it you’ve eaten 4000 calories. It’s that versus feeling unbelievable, had my session in the morning, then I want to go to the gym again after my day or I want to go and do some recovery. I might still go out for dinner; I might even still have a steak, but I’ll have it with a little jacket potato, some spinach and still water. After all that, I know I’m going to sleep like a baby, and I’ll be able to get up and do it again.
People have got to understand that once you break through the cycle, it actually becomes so much easier than you thought it would be because you enjoy it more. You’re feeling great, you get into a routine, you become fitter and you have more energy. It frustrates the life out of me when I see people saying they don’t have time. Fucking hell, you do. Everybody has time. But to achieve anything, you have to make sacrifices. Barry Hearn taught me that.
And how will I spend Father’s Day? There’ll be none of the showy stuff you see on Instagram, it’ll be me saying to him ‘Thanks dad, happy Father’s Day. I appreciate everything.’ And he’ll probably reply, ‘Thank you son. Now, tell me how many tickets you’ve sold at Wembley?’