Boxing: Booth set for another bonus after keeping demons at bay

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The Independent Online

Jason Booth has never denied what he did during the two years that he went missing from boxing and that makes his return, his championship reign and his current form even more astounding.

Booth is an alcoholic and walked away from boxing after losing a world title fight in 2004 to find bliss in drink for 24 months, and it ended only when he could hear his body telling him to quit. He walked into Jimmy Gill's gym; urgent hospital checks confirmed the damage that the drinking had done.

"I lived to drink," said Booth. "It's that simple – I drank anything that I could get my hands on. I didn't care, I didn't know and I don't have a reason for doing it – I was going to die if I carried on and somewhere I knew that."

Booth, who is now 32, defends his British super-bantamweight title and fights for the vacant Commonwealth version against Matthew Marsh at the Harvey Hadden Leisure Centre, Nottingham, tonight in the latest of 18 title fights, which started with a European title fight in 1999 when he was just 21.

In 2004 when Booth retired to his bedroom to drink, his brother Nicky had just been released from prison, where he had been sentenced to two years for an incident in a crack house. The brothers dropped off the radar together on the Nottingham estates. Nicky had been the British bantamweight champion when he was sentenced, but was stripped of his belt.

"It was bad for both of us," remembers Booth. "I managed to get back in the gym; the boxing saved me, it's that simple. Nicky is still trying." People that knew the brothers at the time warned that unless they moved from the streets that knew them both too well, they would end up in trouble. Now Booth lives in Bilborough, which is a few important miles from the Strelley Estate, with a new partner, their two children and two of hers from a previous marriage.

"I've gone further than I expected when I first went back to the gym," admitted Booth. "This is all a bonus to me – I'm living my life now one glorious day at a time." A sponsor couldn't have put it better.