A recovering alcoholic and drug user who spent most of his life in a boozy haze has credited his recovery partially to a vicious killer.
Despite growing up in poverty, Matt Wride says he had a great childhood, and after trying his hand at boxing – he discovered his potential.
He told Wales Online: "I joined Gwent Boxing Club in Townhill, where trainer Terry Grey could see my potential and we discussed going pro. I should have listened to Terry.
"I was drinking but I was dedicated to boxing. But the social side of university was taking over. I was still training, but not taking it seriously.”
And soon after Wride took his boxing skills to the streets, gaining a reputation for always getting into fights with bouncers and other club-goers.
Once he reached his early thirties, Matt added spirits to his deadly mix of daily alcohol.
"I'd go from drinking 100 cans a week to 75 cans, but I'd also have two or three bottles of whiskey and rum,” he added.
“It started going pear-shaped. If I brought a bottle of spirits home, it wouldn't last the weekend. I never opened a bottle that would last until the next day, it would gone in a couple of hours".
His excessive drinking triggered a series of severe and debilitating cluster headaches, which saw him hospitalised.
"I have been in many fights, I have taken pain, I used to thrive off the pain, but those headaches scared me to death," he said.
One evening, while putting out bin bags containing an £800 laptop he had smashed in a drunken stupor, he realised he had to do something.
He found his way to AA, where the first person he spoke to helped turn his life around.
"The first person who spoke to me was Tom Carney. It is unforgivable what he did, but he was so nice to me I don't think I would have gone back without him.
"It was difficult for my wife; a lot of partners of alcoholics think 'why can't I get through?', but it takes an alcoholic to save an alcoholic. It's a cliche but it's true".
His marriage was over and finally sober, Matt "stopped living like a monk" and took "enthusiastically" to online dating.
Then in a bid to get out of his home town, Wride signed up to become a Royal Navy chef. It also saw his drinking step up a gear.
"I had navy ID which was like a get out of jail card. I'd get off the boat and get into trouble, and end up being cuffed by local police, but it was a lot of hassle to process charging someone from the military, so they'd just take you back to the dock and kick you out there".
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After six years Matt returned home with a wife and, eventually, three children, and started working in a call centre.
By now, drinking had reached around 12 cans of Stella a night, rising to forty or fifty over the weekend.
"I was also taking cocaine. That just makes you drink longer.” He added
"My wife drank when we first met, but she never liked the way my drinking had become. When she got pregnant she would eat for two, and I would start drinking for two.
"I would go out for a night, and the only rules were I don't cheat and I don't bring drugs home. She would wake up to find me with a broken nose and black eyes.
"I was punchy, but the older I got I started losing more fights than I was winning.”
Now living in Plasmarl he has written a book based on his life, ‘Living Life in a Thunderstorm’. It features drink, drugs, gambling, profanity, questionable work practices, love, infidelity, broken hearts, bomb-making, nights out on Wind Street, and liaisons in toilet cubicles,
"I had to sit down and write by hand because I couldn't afford a laptop. And it just started tumbling out. It took me three months, and halfway through.
"I had stopped drinking. I had stopped taking cocaine. I had stopped beating people up. I thought I had one problem, the drink, but I had a hundred.
"I don't want to make out I'm a hero. I'm the bad guy here. I can't change my past but I have never done anything I have felt proud of, and if I die tomorrow, I can do so knowing I have written this book".
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