Many of us are shaped by our upbringing, and that couldn’t be more true for this week’s Xero Gravity guest John McAvoy. A product of his environment, John grew up surrounded by some of Britain’s most prolific armed robbers, taking on their carefree, ‘the rules don’t apply to me’ way of life. To John, having money meant success and status – something he strived for his whole life. It’s a mentality that eventually caught up with him and landed him a prison sentence.
Today, success means something entirely different to John who’s on the path to becoming the greatest long-distance triathlete. And even though his life of crime is in the past, he shares how it’s shaped him into who he is today. All that plus much more on this captivating two episode special of John’s life. This is part one.
John’s father died before he was born, and the male role models he grew up with all had a rap sheet. His last name McAvoy is synonymous with some of the largest armed robberies across Britain, and from the ages of eight to 15, John was witness to a lot of his family’s criminal activity.
So, when John left school at 15 all he wanted to do was be like the men he grew up with. “I never committed petty crime. It’s something that psychologist could never work out. Normally there’s a chain and you progressively get worse the older you get. I went in straight from the top. My ambitions back then were to commit a bigger robbery than my uncle had done. That motivated me,” says John.
John’s first arrest came at 18 – nine counts of armed robbery. He was looking at 16 years of prison time but plead it out to five. “They believed that I was an escape risk so they wanted to put me in this bright yellow suit that people that escaped prison had to wear,” he recalls.
After the guards ordered John to clean up after them, he’d enough. But refusing the order meant being put in confinement. “I didn’t leave that cell for 365 days. I didn’t come out once, I didn’t shower. If they thought that putting me in my cell was a punishment and I took that away from them, they could no longer punish me,” he tells host Alice Brine.
Locked in his cell, John started to train – spending his days doing burpees, step-ups and push ups. “It was therapeutic. It made me feel alive and free,” he says. But the day John got released from prison, he was angry, paranoid and nowhere close to being rehabilitated.
Tune in for more of part one of John’s story. You’ll hear the game of cat and mouse he played with police after his release and what prompted a move to Spain. Plus, find out what John says is “the best and worst decision he’s ever made.”
If you enjoyed this episode, join us again next week when we continue our chat with John McAvoy. He’s sharing what finally motivated him to give up his life of crime. All on part two! Be sure to check out all of our previous episodes for more small business tips, resources and insights.
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