Posted: 28 October 2016

Kevin Lueshing: It took me 37 years to find the courage to tell my story

Kevin is the former British welterweight champion who fought Tito Trinidad for the world title. Read his own personal story that reveals the truth about the sexual abuse he suffered as young boy. He hopes the launch of his autobiography The Belt Boy, will help ‘others come forward who have been trapped in the same misery’.

Even though I was a British champion boxer - tough and ruthless - it took me 37 years to find the courage to tell my story. 

To anybody reading this, to anybody suffering the agony of abuse right now, don't make the same mistake I did. Don't wait 37 years, don't wait 37 seconds. Reach out for help immediately.

I always shiver when something bad happens to a child - maybe parents splitting up, for example - and all the grownups say: ‘You're only a child, you'll get over it’. Well I never got over it. Scratch the surface and the abuse and trauma I suffered is as raw now as it's ever been.

My mistake was to bottle it all up for too long. I was too ashamed, too embarrassed, I wanted to give out the image of being Mr Tough Guy. I couldn't possibly reveal something that might shatter that illusion, especially as I wanted to be a boxer.

But deep inside, the burden was just getting heavier and heavier; deep inside, I was screaming at myself to find a way of letting it all go.

Writing a book

In the end, writing my book - and getting my secret out in the open - was a form of therapy.

But that's not why I chose to write it. I chose to tell my story because I cannot bear the thought of another child silently suffering like I did.

If a child can't tell his parent or carer that there is a problem, then the parent or carer is to blame. Communication is broken and only the adult can fix it. In my book I talk about the right to be a child, just as we have other basic human rights - like the right to be alive, to breathe, to be free.

Childhood is a precious commodity to be protected at all times

Some of the sentences and scenes in my book are shocking and explicit and that is quite deliberate.

There is absolutely nothing tolerable about child abuse and I have used this language in the hope it shocks adults into realising that. If you find it unpalatable reading, then good, I have done what I wanted to do.

Your job is to protect every child from the abuse I suffered. Your job is to preserve the right of every child to be a child.

Getting support

I have been overwhelmed, truly grateful and inspired by the reaction I've received. Before publication of The Belt Boy, I was dreading what the boxing community, in particular, might think of my story. These are tough guys, true fighters - but each and every one of them sent me the most unbelievable messages of support. 

Nobody has said a bad word and I'm extremely grateful to my friend, Mike Dunn, for the way he wrote my story. We were both extremely proud when the book was longlisted for the William Hill awards recently.

I've also been overwhelmed by the messages I've had from people who don't know me. That's made me realise there are many thousands of victims out there who have been suffering in silence just like I did.

It tells me I've touched a nerve and there is an enormous amount out of work still to be done out there. An enormous amount of people who, like me, buried their own stories.

My message to them is this: Speak out, if not for yourself, then for all the innocent children who are already victims and who will stay so for the remainder of their lives unless we find our voices, speak out on their behalf, and beat the evil curse of abuse together.

The Belt Boy by Kevin Lueshing (£9.99, Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd) is out now.

Book cover of the Belt Boy

The Children’s Society supports hundreds of victims of child sexual exploitation working with children in care and on the streets.  They also run projects designed to help young people avoid risk, as well as counselling services to help them deal with their experiences.

Other valuable work includes offering mentoring services for boys and young men who have been victims of male rape and other sexual abuse perpetuated by older men, or in some cases of the same age. It’s a service that could have made a big difference to my life. That’s why I’m glad to support their work, to give young people a lifeline when they have nowhere else to turn.  

For more information and how you can help The Children’s Society support victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation visit The Children’s Society’s website or call Childline on 0800 1111  

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