Former heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs is known for his bubbly, larger-than-life personality outside the ring. But in a recent appearance on BoxNation, the 44-year-old opened up about some very dark times he experienced following his grueling twelve-round decision loss to Vitali Klitschko in 2010 and subsequent three-year layoff from boxing.
Briggs, then age 39, sank into a deep depression and let himself go physically while taking a hiatus from the sport. He stopped training and ballooned up to almost 400 pounds.
It seems hard to imagine a person who’s constantly upbeat like Briggs spiraling into the depths of extreme depression, but considering the circumstances that led to it, it’s not really all that surprising.
In Briggs’ mind, he probably knew that a fight against Klitschko was the last real chance he had to win a world title. To earn that one final opportunity for greatness and then get thoroughly dismantled to the point of having to spend several days in the hospital after the fight was apparently too much for Briggs to bear at that stage of his career. Moreover, the beating was just as damaging psychologically as it was physically.
Briggs disappeared from the limelight after the horrific defeat and didn’t fight a single time in 2011, 2012 or 2013. Luckily, “The Cannon” eventually conquered his depression and rededicated himself to not just boxing, but — more importantly — also to health and fitness.
“I was up to 400 pounds. I was nearly 400 pounds, and I was suffering from a lot of depression because I felt like I still had something left,” Briggs told the BoxNation crew. “I decided to get myself in shape. I lost 160 pounds and started training really hard.”
Good for him. He now regularly posts motivational diet and exercise videos all over his social media accounts and has developed a bit of a cult-like following.
Briggs returned to the ring in 2014 and has since amassed eight straight victories, with seven of them coming by way of stoppage. He continues to troll some of the top names in the heavyweight division in an impressive effort to land a big fight, and his latest jaw-dropping stunt is moving to the UK to try to convince David Haye, Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua to get in the ring with him.
Even if Shannon Briggs can’t score the massive payday he so covets by getting a fight with a popular British heavyweight, he’s still a great ambassador for the sport and a positive role model despite his outlandish antics. It’s also inspiring to see someone confront their internal issues head on and ultimately overcome them. That makes Briggs a champion, belt or no belt. Let’s go champ!