World-class boxer Andy Flute was famous for packing a winning punch – but it was alcohol that knocked him out.
The former England fighter had captained the national team and been chief sparring partner to champions like Nigel Ben, Chris Eubank and Joe Calzaghe.
But in his professional prime, alcoholism was secretly taking hold.
“I started drinking in between fights. I thought I could do both because I was young and strong, but it spiralled out of control and I became an alcoholic,” he said.
Andy had everything – houses, money, fame and family, but drink robbed him of the lot. He racked up three prison sentences for drink-fuelled crimes as his life descended into chaos.
“I went from local hero to local drunk. From the back of the paper for my boxing to the front page for my drinking.
“The drink battered me into submission. I developed a crack habit too.”
Suicide seemed the only option, but after a failed attempt Andy kept drinking.
During one heavy session, his terrified girlfriend thought he would die and a local pastor was called to pray for him.
This was the turning point for Andy.
“They prayed and left. Afterwards, I said to God, ‘If you’re real and you take my addictions away, I’ll follow you for the rest of my life.’”
God answered. Andy’s transformation was immediate. “I never had another drink. God totally removed my addiction.” Turning to Alcoholics Anonymous for support strengthened his new faith.
“I was going through the 12 Steps to Recovery and was listing all the people I’d harmed so I could make amends.
“My sponsor said, ‘God’s touched you again, hasn’t he? He’s just forgiven you for what you’ve done.’”
As Andy rebuilt his life, he launched the ministry he runs today, Jesus in my Corner Ministry, to support people battling addictions. “I’ve been into prisons and been invited to speak at churches all over the country.
“When people see somebody like me — a tough guy who loves Jesus — they think there’s something in it.”
He’s also written a book – Jesus in my Corner – which he penned while attempting to overcome his alcoholism.
Andy is looking forward to celebrating Easter, but says he is thankful to God all year round.
“Everything I’ve achieved is down to God. I was in a real mess but he pulled me out of it. The worst thing that happened to me turned out to be the best thing because I found Jesus.”