This week on Xero Gravity we’re continuing our conversation with criminal turned triathlete John McAvoy. If you missed our episode from last week, I encourage you to have a listen to part one of John’s story. We left off with John about to make the best and worst decision of his life and today we find out what that is.
Also on this episode? An ‘aha’ moment of epic proportions, crushing some British and World records in rowing, and finally putting his drive and energy to good use. Today, he’s competing (and ranking) in the Ironman triathlon and sharing his story in hopes of motivating kids to choose a life outside of crime.
John was back on London soil after spending years living in Spain. He was there to celebrate a friend’s birthday and planned to fly back right away. But during his stay, John got approached to do an easy job for some quick cash. It seemed too good to pass up but was too good to be true. John was caught and immediately sent back to prison.
He received a double life sentence with a minimum stay of five years. Going in, John’s mentality was to resume his training, keep his head down and escape when he had the chance. So, to keep busy John took part in fitness competitions – winning most of them. “Those natural instincts I have to be competitive, to try to win. That was driving me,” he says.
At the time John had every intention to resume his criminal life on the outside. But a few years into his sentence, John got word that his best friend passed away committing an armed robbery. He was devastated. “It’s hard to explain the effect it had on me.” he says.
“It made me see that I’ve done nothing. I haven’t achieved anything in my life. I had this epiphany and realized that everything I was brought up to believe was shit. This code, and hating authority. For what? I look back and ask myself ‘how did I ever get to a state where I would think like that?’”
Determined to change, John put his mind to exercise and started going to the prison gym seven days a week. “Exercise took on a whole new level for me. Before it was all about escapism and getting out of prison. Now it was about escaping prisoners. I didn’t want to be around them anymore and listen to their rubbish,” he says.
When John got released he was a changed man. Instead of wanting the most money, he now wanted to become a professional athlete and beat records. John set his sights on the Ironman triathalon and hasn’t looked back. And for John, it’s even more important to show the younger generation that crime isn’t the answer – sharing his story through speaking events.
“I want them to see what’s possible in life. As a kid, I did a lot of bad stuff. I was impatient, and I looked up to the wrong people. Hard work didn’t really compute with me. I see how easy it is for people who’ve been exposed to that as a kid to go down that road.”
“If I can stop even one of those kids from spending one day in prison, I’d be a happy man.”
Tune in to hear more from John on Xero Gravity #95. He’s giving his advice on awareness and the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people. Plus, we get deeper into his transformation from criminal to inspiration.
If you enjoyed this episode, join us again next week when we speak with another inspiring guest. Be sure to check out all of our previous episodes for more small business tips, resources and insights.
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