Updated: Jan 7, 2020

For those uninitiated to Macaulay McGowan, he is a 24-year-old English middleweight with a professional boxing record of 13-0-1. An exciting front-foot pressure fighter with a seemingly-tireless-aerobic-capacity and a left hook that when thrown to the body simply doesn’t know how to miss.

A quick Google search will tell you that he is now working with respected trainer, Ben Lancaster, at his ‘Shed’ gym in Manchester, alongside the BBBofC Central Area middleweight champion, Jack Kilgannon; an opponent he is due to fight on August 31st at the Oldham Leisure Centre against Latvia’s Kristaps Zulgis.

The pitfalls of the internet meant BoxRec and cursory searches will only give you a superficial representation of McGowan, digestible headlines upon which you can form a disposable opinion or convenient categorisation, but tell you nothing of the man behind the statistics, his journey outside of the ring, or what’s going on out-of-sight internally as he readies himself for his second middleweight fight, following 13 professional fights across the welter-and-super-welterweight divisions.

Talking to him reveals a remarkable tale of overcoming adversity, personal redemption and the limitless possibilities achievable if you show courage and place unfaltering confidence in yourself.

McGowan’s professional career began on the 10th May 2014 with a points win over Jason Nesbitt at the Olympia Theatre in Liverpool. By September 2017, he had amassed a professional record of 12-0-1 and was in line to fight for the English super-welterweight title. Professionally, things were ascending well, privately Macaulay was equally blessed, welcoming his daughter Florence into the world in September 2016, a month before his contentious draw with Jez Smith.

Yet by the end of 2017, things had slowly started to unravel.

“I left Arnie [long-time trainer Arnie Farnell] and couldn’t really find anywhere else. I slipped into having a few mental health issues.”

One may be forgiven for assuming that these were minor mishaps that were soon rectified, but in actuality McGowan would 'nearly lose everything' and would not fight again for nearly two years. Articulating the issues he faced with the same bravery and directness that he would stalk down an opponent, he describes of 'being stuck in the mud, unable to look forward or backwards', of 'not feeling like me', and of knowing he 'definitely wouldn’t box for a while'.

“I was going to work and then driving home and sitting in the car, not wanting to get out and go home. I wasn’t sitting there to feel better, but it was just too tiring to get out and pretend to be a different person.”

He sought escape, as do many, through the vices of excessive drink and ‘partying’.

“I was going out and acting like a dickhead, but I’m not really that person and never have been…my girlfriend pretty much left me…I nearly lost everything during that period.”

He describes his rock bottom as coming whilst on a family holiday in Tenerife, where despite being away with his girlfriend and daughter, he was primarily preoccupied with the taking of antidepressants.

“I didn’t have nothing to be depressed about. I had a good job, the best family life, my daughter. I was on holiday in a beautiful place with the people I want all around me and I was having to take antidepressants. I thought this isn’t me here. I’ve got to change things.”

And change things he did. Returning home, he visited Ben Lancaster and went straight back in the gym. However, the period of drinking, partying and taking prescription medication had taken its toll. He now weighed an unrecognisable 15.5 stone, and so their initial goal was to get him fit again and back into a routine of training and fighting.

He never took another antidepressant from that moment and along with the renewed focus and routine, the camaraderie with gym-mates, Danny Wright and Jack Kilgannon helped him to the point where he found his mood improving almost immediately.

Ten months after he began training with Ben, he inspirationally returned in a four round middleweight contest against Paul Allison, winning on points at the Bolton Whites Hotel.