Former boxing promoter Frank Maloney, who is now living as a woman, has said her transgender struggle led her to attempt suicide.
The 61-year-old, now known as Kellie, guided boxer Lennox Lewis to lift the world heavyweight boxing title during a successful career.
Maloney, who was yesterday backed by Lewis and other sporting personalities for telling her story, told the Mirror she could not cope with leading a double life.
“It got to a point where I just couldn’t cope any longer. I couldn’t go on and I had to end it,” the father-of-three told the paper.
Kellie said she attempted suicide but later broke down and told her daughter how she had lived her life feeling trapped in the wrong body.
In a lengthy interview she had told the paper she is now undergoing gender reassignment therapy.
She thanked the public for the positive reaction she received, including comments on social media from former footballer Stan Collymore and boxing commentator Steve Bunce.
Reacting to the news Lewis said he respects Maloney’s decision.
Lewis said: “I was just as shocked as anyone at the news about my former promoter and my initial thought was that it was a wind up. The great thing about life, and boxing, is that, day to day, you never know what to expect.
“This world we live in isn’t always cut and dried or black and white, and coming from the boxing fraternity, I can only imagine what a difficult decision this must be for Kellie.
“However, having taken some time to read Kellie’s statements, I understand better what she, and others in similar situations, are going through. I think that ALL people should be allowed to live their lives in a way that brings them harmony and inner peace.
“I respect Kellie’s decision and say that if this is what brings about true happiness in her life, than so be it.”
Maloney announced his intention to call time on his 30-year career with immediate effect last October.
His decision brought an end to a colourful career which saw him guide Lewis to glory despite memorably being derided as a ‘’mental midget’’ by US promoter Don King.
Lewis said on Twitter when Maloney retired: ‘’Big up 2 Frank Maloney on a massive career in the fight game. Gonna miss those Union Jack suits. All the best to u and urs.’’
Maloney’s garish suits might have earned him fame as Lewis’s sidekick, but his jovial image belied a shrewd boxing brain as he swerved King’s obstacles to lead Lewis to the top.
Maloney told the Press Association when he retired: ‘’Boxing has given me some great times but it’s not the same business I grew to love any more.
‘’The characters have gone and gradually over the last six months I have realised that I don’t want to be involved in it any more.
‘’I am now going to go travelling through Europe with my two Airedales and see how far I can get. You never know, in six months I might miss it, but I know now it is the right time to finish.’’