Alliance Profile – Peter McNeeley
“Hurricane” Peter McNeeley
What life events that you’ve experienced (could be minor, could be major), physical traumas, or genetic predispositions do you believe you went through, that may have had any type of impact on your ability to feel the healthiest you can feel from a mental health standpoint?
I remember a bunch of physical trauma. During one of my fights, I was hit with “the heel of the laces.” It’s a part of the boxing glove that has no padding. It cut open my left eye and I had to go to the hospital. I needed 60 stitches to close the wound. It was an unfortunate circumstance, but I tried to stay focused on my recovery and prepare for my next fight. During another fight that came after that one, I broke my hand…but still ended up winning. I was prescribed pain meds at the time.
My physical trauma continued years later when I found myself limping around for several days. My leg had swollen from my ankle to my knee. After my brother convinced me, I finally went to the hospital. I was there for 3 days and was given medication to help manage the clots.
Life is always going to have setbacks and challenges. Looking back, fighting was my passion and it kept me focused – to the point where in training mode, I was able to put ALL my focus on the upcoming bout. But…the question is, with all I was pushing off to the side and NOT dealing with till after my fights (and even then not fully addressing everything), was the training & love of the fight just another addiction amongst the others I was using?
How did those events impact your state of mind and overall psyche?
During my boxing career, I struggled with addiction to substances as well. I knew I had to be in top physical shape for every fight, so I managed to stay clean and sober while training – again what appeared as a positive addiction that at least allowed me to stay clean. Even though physically I was in the best shape of my life, mentally I was struggling. All I could think about was using it once the fight was over. I was winning in the ring by growing my career, but I was losing the fight to stay sober in my life in the long run.
When and why did you decide to look for help to get relief from those feelings (or symptoms), if you did…or do you just look for coping mechanisms on your own?
On 11/1/2016 I finally came to the realization that if I didn’t stop using drugs and alcohol, I was going to lose everything. I was exhausted from the mental tug-of-war that I had been dealing with for years – training and then coming down off each fight. I decided I couldn’t continue to let down the people in my life who loved me…my family & friends. Enough was enough! I was finally ready to stay clean and sober.
What practices have helped you individually feel the best you can (whether from outside help or on your own)?
Today, my passion still remains in the boxing gym. So that “addiction” in a positive way, is still there – but it can be positive bc in my non-boxing life, I’ve found balance to work on myself and stay sober. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to mentor up-and-coming fighters in the Boston area. Not only am I able to share my experiences in the ring, but also my experiences in life. Giving back has become my outlet and a source of self-therapy. I have to be a positive role model for them!
Why did you decide to share your story (whether previously or on this site for the first time)? Who were/are you hoping to help and how?
If one person can learn from the mistakes that I made… then I’m a success. Winning in the ring was always a natural high, but making a positive impact on another person in life is even more rewarding.
How did people react when you shared your story of overcoming obstacles?
Throughout my boxing career I didn’t speak much about my addiction to drugs and alcohol. Because I had the discipline to stop using (or to replace) when I had a fight scheduled, it wasn’t a side of me that the public typically saw.
Today I am in a place where I feel like my past is a part of my life that’s worth sharing. I want to be a beacon of hope and inspiration. I’m living proof that if you dream it and work hard, you will achieve it. The fight isn’t over until the last bell rings. Keep punching!