“Can you go to war with one arm? Can you go to war with asthmatic lungs? Broken hands? Yes you can Champ. You prepare yourself. Push yourself. And when the worst of the worst happens you start saying #LETSGOCHAMP #LETSGOCHAMP #LETSGOCHAMP”
Shannon Briggs (Instagram @Cannon_Shannon - December 3rd, 2016)
I overheard someone on the train talking boxing. One said flippantly - Shannon Briggs? Is that the crazy massive old bloke? They all nodded and conversation moved on.
I’m unsure why I felt the urge to defend Briggs and to tell them there is more than meets the eye than craziness and muscles. But I didn’t. I kept my mouth shut.
So here is me redeeming myself and telling the internet why we should all take a leaf out of the Shannon Briggs’ book of life. I hope one of them reads this...
For those of you who don’t know, Shannon ‘The Cannon’ Briggs is 45 years old and a twenty-year-old veteran of boxing. With a total of 68 fights and 60 wins (53 coming by way of knockout) he’s held the lineal heavyweight title from 1997 to 1998, plus the WBO heavyweight title from 2006 to 2007. With a first professional fight in 1992, he’s gone toe-to-toe with boxing greats George Foreman, Lennox Lewis and Vitali Klitschko.
Out of the ring, there’s no denying that he’s absolutely bonkers - topless and flexing his muscles to the camera, gatecrashing weigh-ins, press conferences and famously, Wladimir Klitschko's breakfast. But this is all showmanship - it’s simply all part of the game, the act.
Shannon Briggs is a spiritual warrior and more in tune and emotional than you’d imagine. His tag-line ‘LET’S GO CHAMP’ carries more meaning than we probably give credit for too.
Briggs opened up publicly about his life on The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. He talks of his childhood - being born less than 2 pounds, with underdeveloped lungs from a mother who was a heroine addict. He talks of being asthmatic and spending most of his days in the hospital as a child. He mentions his father being in prison - a place in which he’d later die.
“You can probably hear the emotion in my voice, and so I apologise”.
The hardest thing in his life was being a homeless teenager and he recites a story of when he returned home from school. Just a normal day he looked into his mums apartment. She’d left, leaving him to fend for himself.
“It was empty.... No more comic books, no more toys… I lost my childhood that day... no more colour TV’s. It became about survival.”
When his management team left him after a loss, more adversity was to follow. Contemplating suicide, he stood in a basement looking down at a shotgun. He then suffered severe depression years later - ballooning to over 400lbs after losing a title shot.
And yet… He overcame it all.
Shannon Briggs is a spiritual warrior and more in tune and emotional than you’d imagine. His tag-line ‘LET’S GO CHAMP’ carries more meaning than we probably give credit for too. The catchphrase is used to reflect on all the time he’s had to pick himself up from rock bottom. Shannon Briggs has been hit hard by life but to quote Rocky Balboa, “it’s not about hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward”. (Rocky Balboa, 2006)
Shannon says a change in attitude was born out of fatherhood. He couldn't imagine his 4-year-old daughter having to survive without a father. Looking down at her as a baby, depressed and overweight, this is when the “LET’S GO CHAMP” catchphrase was born. This is when he began shouting “LET’S GO CHAMP” at the top of his lungs. This is when he got back in the gym, lost the weight and started fighting again. Shannon ‘The Cannon’ was back!
But… he doesn't stop there. He spreads his newly found positive energy onto others.
"I'm happy to be alive - I get thousands of emails and texts from people all over the world saying they were suffering from depressions. Saying 'I wanted to kill myself'... but thanks to you and watching your videos I got motivated... that's why I feel good"
His motivational videos are put out to his 200,000 + Instagram followers weekly (sometimes daily) and whether he’s in the gym training, or at home armed with a blender and a whole bunch of health foods, he tells anyone who will listen to eat healthy, train hard and 'be a Champ'.
So bin your negativity and get on board. #LetsGoChamp!
Check out Shannon’s full Instagram account HERE. You’ll thank me. He’s clearly a character we can all learn from. Below is a personal favourite: