Time to Talk Day ~ Leon McKenzie.



Today is ‘Time to Talk’ day and it’s all about bringing people together to be able to open up and have honest conversations. We catch up with Leon McKenzie, a former professional footballer who played in all 4 professional leagues for a total of 18 years. After retiring from this sport, he turned his focus to boxing and reached professional standard, competing in the super middleweight class.


Leon is one of the most inspiring sports people we have met. He is open about his battles with depression and is using this experience to help others by being an ambassador for mental health as well as being involved with LAPS (Life After Professional Sport).


We invited Leon to meet Master Oh and experience one of his treatments. To celebrate ‘Time to Talk’ day, we share Leon’s thoughts and how he felt after meeting Master Oh. They are both from very different worlds, but have the same approach to life - positive energy is the key to a happy and fulfilling life.  


What do you feel are your biggest achievements in your life?


First and foremost, my children, however, I’m not recognised for being a dad!  Then, of course, there are many moments throughout my career as a professional footballer that I’m extremely proud of.


As well as this, I’d say one of my biggest achievements was during my professional boxing career which I took up relatively late in life at 35 years old and then retired at 39. I reached Elite Title Level and was competing against guys who had been in the sport all their lives, and in that time I fought for 3 titles. I put my success down to my dedication over the past four years.


Looking forwards, my biggest achievement will be a documentary I’m currently working on which looks at why athletes are susceptible to mental health issues. I’m very excited about is as it has a very strong message about mental health which is so important to save lives, and I’m delighted that it’s gaining more focus. It covers part of my journey and also includes interviews with other athletes, some of whom have had their own issues and some haven’t.  


What are the most notable obstacles/difficulties who’ve faced in your life?


There are many obstacles that have come into my life. Some are my own doing, and some are not. Some things I’ve been able to control, and some not.


Coping with injuries when you are a professional sports player is difficult. Then there’s, coping with trusting people when you work in a close-knit team; financial trust, emotional trust, any level of trust, and how to copy when you are let down.


Dealing with my own mental health issues. I suffered with depression probably from as far back as when I was a child. It was never really understood until I was an adult when I started educating myself about the reasons why I’m more likely susceptible to suffer.  It transpires that certain things I’ve seen and not dealt with properly has manifested in some of my behaviour patterns, being self-destructive and how I’ve lived my life.


Depression has been a massive part of my life and still is. I try and cope with it and move forward. Everything you see me doing, is from the perspective of trying to be positive and push out that positive energy to those who do not have the strength to find energy in myself.


I met Master Oh, who is an energy master, and not something I have experienced before. I was open to it, because I know how important energy is, especially positive energy.


It was incredible. When I first entered the room and we started talking, he could feel my energy just from talking, from a spiritual point of view, from our original source. That is the main source of our positive energy.


He has a very unique way of doing things. Through his assessment, he knew I was holding onto a lot of negative energy. He treated me using accupressure which is a combination of touch and sound to release blocked energy at key points across the body.  At first I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, it’s so powerful.


After the treatment, I felt relaxed and at peace.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?


I love this quote from Michael Jordan, as for me, it says everything:


I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.’


What do you say to people who are now in a similar position to you, when you were struggling?


Speak to someone who you trust and love, someone who isn’t going to judge you and loves you unconditionally. Then speak to someone professional. It’s OK to not feel ready to bare all your feelings, but at least it will start the process.


There are several routes you could take, for example, you could look at Psychotherapy where you go right back to childhood, or you might just seek counselling to be able to talk through how you feel.  Just by talking starts the healing process, which is why I’m fully supportive of  ‘Time to Talk’ Day.

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