Battling Alcoholism: Former boxer Kenneth discusses 10 years sober on TV series

By Aideen O'Flaherty

Olympic silver medallist and local politician Kenneth Egan’s battle with alcoholism will be explored as part of TG4’s Finné series of documentaries next week.

The Clondalkin boxer famously won a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, but his struggle with alcoholism worsened after his win, amidst the ups and downs of competitive sports.

Kenneth Egan inpho 00436578 1

Kenneth Egan in action at the European Elite Men Boxing Championships in Moscow 2010 against Ainar Karlson of Estonia

The documentary, which will air on TG4 next Wednesday, February 10, at 9.30pm, looks at the worst degrees of Kenneth’s alcoholism, his experience as a sportsman and his early childhood.

“The documentary covers when I started off as a boxer in Neilstown right up to the Olympic Stadium,” Kenneth told The Echo.

When asked if he was nervous about the documentary being released, and covering such intensely personal topics, Kenneth said: “I laid all my cards on the table when I decided to get sober 10 years ago.

“The documentary is a personal journey, and people wouldn’t know the ins and outs of my early childhood.

“I didn’t like school, so I started boxing when I was eight and, then when I was about 13 or 14, I started drinking – and I liked them both.

“I used to say that when I started drinking it was because I fell in with the wrong crowd, but that was nonsense. I made those decisions.”

Kenneth’s struggle with alcoholism reached a fever pitch when he returned home after winning a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and he became the subject of intense media attention.

“The media were very intrusive,” he remembered. “They went to my parents’ home to try to get stories on me.

“They were looking for blood, and I didn’t help because I was out drinking and socialising all the time.

“But, because I won that medal, that propelled my drinking, and I think that got me into recovery quicker.

“If I hadn’t won it, I would’ve given into drinking at a slower rate until I had nothing.”

On his return from the Olympics, Kenneth said he felt like he had lost his identity, and he later began attending AA meetings and going into recovery from his alcohol addiction.

He is now 10 years sober, and during those years he returned to education and carved out a new career for himself.

Kenneth went on to get involved in local politics, and was first elected to South Dublin County Council as a Fine Gael councillor in 2014, and was re-elected at the 2019 local elections.

Now working as a counsellor in Clondalkin, Kenneth pursued a career in counselling and psychotherapy after earning a degree in integrative counselling and psychotherapy, and a Higher Diploma in Addiction Studies.

“The message from the documentary is to not give up – keep pushing and pushing,” said Kenneth.

When asked how he feels about the trajectory his life has taken, Kenneth said: “I’m very grateful for everything that I have.

“I’ve never aspired to be a millionaire or anything. I’m just happy to have peace of mind, a roof over my head, a family that I’m proud of and my sobriety.”

Kenneth features in episode five of the documentary series Finné on TG4 Wednesday, February 10, at 9.30pm.

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