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  1. ITV Report

Paddy Barnes: Gambling 'probably would have ruined my life'

Paddy says the problem started when the adrenaline of victory in the ring began to wear off. Credit: Press Eye

Northern Ireland boxing star Paddy Barnes has opened up about his fight with gambling addiction and is speaking out to make others aware of the dangers.

Paddy says the problem started when the adrenaline of victory in the ring began to wear off.

I was craving that adrenaline rush, craving that buzz. I stupidly got into gambling...small gambling and it kept increasing and increasing and increasing. Before I knew it, gambling was my hobby.

– Paddy Barnes

Paddy's addiction was threatening to derail his career and so he owned up to his wife about the struggle.

He said: "I could have still been gambling (if I didn't tell her)... it probably would have ruined my life."

For me being able to tell her what the craic was, it eased everything. I wasn't hiding it from her then. I was more at peace with myself.

– Paddy Barnes

The double-Olympic medalist said that things seem ok when you're winning, but when you're losing you lose the 'buzz'.

Paddy said: "At the back of my mind I didn't really care about the money, it was just that buzz. And when you lose that money that buzz isn't there... It could lead people to very depressive states."

As Sport NI's first ever Wellbeing Ambassador, Paddy is encouraging others to talk about their problems, no matter how big or small.

"No matter who you are, everyone has problems... There's people there to talk to and who want to talk to you.

"Don't be ashamed, don't be embarrassed, don't be scared," encourages Paddy.

Paddy hopes his gambling addiction will stay in his past

His story proves that our greatest fights are not with our fists, but in our own minds.

  • Our reporter Simon McIntyre spoke with Paddy about his addiction: