Johnny's story: "One day at a time, I proved to myself and others that I was stronger than my past."

September 2023 | 7 minutes

My name is Johnny Bradley, and let me tell you, life has been a rollercoaster ride.

At the age of 16, I made a decision to join the army, and it shaped my future in ways I couldn't even imagine. I sought purpose, adventure, and a chance to prove myself. Little did I know that this choice would lead me down a path filled with challenges, pain, and ultimately redemption. During my time in the army, I faced many hardships, but they paled in comparison to the personal struggles I encountered in a new relationship upon my return from deployment.

It was a daily struggle, both physically and emotionally, as I clung to the hope that things would improve. After a short time, the relationship ended, and I found myself on a journey to gain custody of my two children, which often became overwhelming.

As the months passed, filled with pressure, isolation, and uncertainty, the weight of my circumstances took its toll. I turned to alcohol as an escape from the pain and to drown my sorrows. What began as a coping mechanism soon became a full-blown problem. I was spiralling out of control, losing my grip on my own life and the things that mattered most to me.

The turning point came when I realised that my drinking was jeopardising my chances of gaining custody of my two children. At the age of 19, I faced the harsh reality that my drinking was pushing me further away from being the father I needed to be. That realisation, coupled with the support of a new partner, hit me like a punch in the gut, waking me up from my self-destructive haze.

I knew I needed to make a change, to fight back and reclaim my life.

So, I turned to the power of sport, particularly boxing. It became my refuge, my sanctuary. Inside that squared ring, I rediscovered discipline, focus, and resilience that I had lost along the way. With every jab, hook, and uppercut, I channelled my frustrations and pain, transforming them into strength. Boxing taught me to embrace my struggles, to face them head-on and never back down. It gave me the courage to fight for what I believed in, to never give up on myself or my dreams.

Through sheer determination and the unwavering support of my new partner, I gradually overcame my issues with alcohol and together we gained custody of my children, despite a few setbacks along the way.

One day at a time, I proved to myself and others that I was stronger than my past. As I started to heal, I knew I couldn't keep this newfound strength to myself. I wanted to give back, to be a guiding light for others who were walking a similar path.

That's why I am so passionate about volunteering in sports and helping others who are going through similar struggles. I want to share my story, inspire others to rise above their circumstances, and find their inner champion. It's been incredibly rewarding helping others not just through sports but in a variety of ways. Watching people discover their potential, grow in confidence, and become the best versions of themselves is truly fulfilling.

I am still serving, have full custody of my two children, and also volunteer my time as a boxing and sports coach. I believe that through sports, we can teach valuable life lessons, instil discipline, and foster a sense of camaraderie that lasts a lifetime.

My past struggles no longer define me.

I am a survivor, a father, a soldier, and a sports coach. I've learned that it's not about how many times you get knocked down; it's about how many times you get back up. As long as I have breath in my lungs, I will continue to fight, not just for myself, but for those who need a champion in their corner or find solace in my story.