World Champion boxer Scott Harrison fights depression and alcoholism

SCOTT Harrison, the world champion boxer, was admitted to the Priory Hospital in Glasgow to undergo treatment for depression and alcoholism yesterday after owning up to his problems for the first time, his manager said. The 28-year-old boxer held a crisis meeting with his manager, Frank Maloney, on Tuesday night, just hours after pulling out of a scheduled defense of his World Boxing Organization featherweight title.

Mr. Maloney believes Harrison has been suffering from depression for at least 18 months and that his boxing career will be over if he is unable to remain in the Priory, Scotland’s only independent acute psychiatric hospital, for a complete and successful course of treatment. “Even when he comes out of the Priory, he has to continue with counseling or he will just go back to square one,” said a clearly emotional Mr. Maloney at a hastily convened media conference in Glasgow yesterday. “I’ve told him that he can never drink again if he wants to fully recover. He has this fight on his hands for the rest of his life. If he doesn’t stay in the Priory, then it may well be the end of his career.”

Harrison has been arrested twice on licensed premises within the last month. He faces trial in September on four charges, including police assault, as a result of an alleged incident in a Glasgow pub on 23 April. In the early hours of last Sunday morning, he was arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs at a hotel in Balloch, Dunbartonshire. He was due to defend his World Boxing Organization featherweight title against the Guyanese challenger Gairy St Clair in Belfast this Saturday.

Mr. Maloney, who has managed Harrison since the Scot turned professional in 1996, admitted to noticing changes in the boxer’s behavior for some time now, which could have been acted upon sooner. “It’s very sad, because I’ve grown closer to Scott than any other boxer I’ve managed,” said the man who famously guided Lennox Lewis to the world heavyweight title. “I’ve been with the kid for ten years and, without realizing it, I should have been a lot stronger with him before now. “It was maybe being the world champion at a young age, the pressure and responsibility which goes with it, which has caused this. I may become an enemy of some people by saying this, but it may also be because of some of the friends he keeps.”

Peter Harrison, the boxer’s father and trainer, accompanied his son to the Priory yesterday morning. He reported leaving him in good spirits. “He was quite positive,” Mr. Harrison said. “He was wondering how he was going to spend his time in there without cracking up, but he knows he has to stick at it. If all goes well, I think Scott will be back in a ring sooner rather than later,” said Mr. Maloney. “But boxing is secondary in all this. It’s about Scott getting his life back on track and making sure he has a secure future with Jackie and his kids.”