Herbie Hide lifts the lid on his life behind bars

The service at Norwich Cathedral for Ronnie Brooks; Boxer Herbie Hide; picture by Adrian Judd The service at Norwich Cathedral for Ronnie Brooks; Boxer Herbie Hide; picture by Adrian Judd

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
10:02 PM

He was jailed after admitting conspiracy to supply class A drugs, but having served his prison sentence former two-time world heavyweight boxing champion Herbie Hide lifts the lid on his time in prison, battling depression, how he views Norwich and the Sun ‘sting’ investigation. Crime correspondent PETER WALSH reports.

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'Lets Be Having You' boxing night at Norfolk Showground. Herbie Hide V Aleksejes Kosobokovs; PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY; COPY:; FOR:EDP SPORT; © ARCHANT NORFOLK 2008 (01603 772434)'Lets Be Having You' boxing night at Norfolk Showground. Herbie Hide V Aleksejes Kosobokovs; PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY; COPY:; FOR:EDP SPORT; © ARCHANT NORFOLK 2008 (01603 772434)

Herbie on prison

“If that’s prison I’ve been in prison all my life anyway. I’ve been in prison from the first time I stepped into England. It’s exactly how boarding school is and exactly how boxing training is - you get up, go to the gym, get on with training and go to sleep. It’s no different apart from you’re not getting a few hundred thousand after it.

Herbie Hide at Norwich Crown Court on the day he pleaded guilty.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYHerbie Hide at Norwich Crown Court on the day he pleaded guilty. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

“I’m a tough man, naturally born tough, it’s nothing for me. It was a bit like training for a fight, like me going to training camp. I was in great condition, I was running every day.

“I had people writing to me from Liverpool - I’ve got a lot of fans in Liverpool - who I didn’t know, who hate The Sun, older ladies and people who burnt The Sun writing to support me.

“Everyone there knew who I was. Frank Bruno called me and asked how I got on in prison. He said: “Did they thump you up?”. He was laughing at me. People think you get thumped up but what prisoner would want to mess with me?”

Herbie on Tulisa

Earlier this month it emerged that Hide was set to appeal his conviction for conspiracy to supply class A drugs after the collapse of the trial of TV star Tulisa Contostavlos.

The trial of the former X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos over drugs allegations collapsed after Judge Alistair McCreath told Southwark Crown Court he thought prosecution witness Mazher Mahmood had lied in giving evidence.

The judge told the jury the case “cannot go any further” because there were “strong grounds to believe” that Mr Mahmood had “lied” at a hearing before the trial started.

Speaking before the collapse of the trial last week Hide said he felt “sorry” for the TV star.

He said: “I do feel sorry for her because the same guy did it. I felt so sorry for her because I know how they did it.”

Herbie on family and depression

“When I was in prison some people would say ‘I’m worried about my kids’. One thing I was not worried about was my kids. I missed them but was not worried about them because they have the best mum on the planet.

“They came and saw me. The first time they came to see me I cried. We all cried.”

Hide also revealed that inside prison he vowed to do his best for his children after battling for years with depression which set in following the death of his younger brother, Alan, following a battle with leukaemia.

He said: “When someone in your family dies some people can handle it but I went into a depression.

“When he died I felt so heartbroken that I developed an illness.

“I used to sit and watch people go to work, come back and think what’s all this about. I’d watch a horse eating and think why is it eating, why is it bothering he’s going to die anyway.

“When I sat in prison I thought a lot about Alan. I thought Alan has gone, you can’t make your kids go through this anymore. I need to be there for them.”

Herbie on the sting

“They came to me with a good business idea about a promoter. They flew to my house in a helicopter. They became my best friends - chauffering me everywhere - and they told me that the director of the business liked to ‘sniff’.

“I said I don’t know because I don’t really do that type of thing. They make you feel obliged to help them. You feel obliged because they had done so much.”

As previously reported Hide provided undercover reporters from the Sun with a number for his co-defendant Ben Sharman who supplied the drugs.

In November Sharman, then 22, of Howe Lane, Poringland, was jailed for a total of 20 months after previously admitting conspiracy to supply class A drugs, offering to supply class A drugs, offering to supply a class B drug and a separate burglary offence.

“Sharman was one of my tenants. A few times the police called me. They wanted me to come and open the flat he rented because they wanted to do a search of it. That’s how I got to know him. I was an easy target for him. I can hardly read or write so what chance did I have against that?”

Herbie on the past

“I thought about lots of things (in prison). I thought about what a lady told me years ago. I was about 17. I stayed in lodgings in Essex. Chris Eubank and Lennox Lewis also used to stay there. This lady took to me, I was quite naive. She used to talk to me a lot. It was in the national papers that I had bought land and was building a mansion. She called me and said I shouldn’t have bought land to build a mansion in Norfolk. She felt I was better off to build a mansion in Essex because I would ‘stick out like a sore thumb’...they will resent you for it and that’s what they did.

“There have been rumours in Norwich for many years about how I live, what I do and my financial issues but there has never been any reason why anyone should believe it. I’ve got homes in USA, Nigeria, rent homes to people but people in Norwich go on about how I’m broke. I fly all over the world first class, I don’t work, so why would people say I’m broke? It’s wishful thinking. They are praying for my downfall.”

Herbie goes bananas at Barry Hearn

Hide revealed panic once prompted him to race to the Essex home of promotor Barry Hearn to demand to know where his £2.5m was following his 1995 defeat to Riddick Bowe.

Hide might have lost his WBO crown following the sixth round loss in the MGM Grand Arena in Nevada, but he earned a bumper pay cheque from the fight which he thought he had also lost when it was not paid into his account.

Hide, who also revealed at the time a local reporter had asked him to comment on rumours he had no money, said: “I thought there might be something she knows that I don’t know.

“I was waiting for my cheque to come. I thought I’d been conned.

“I drove to Barry Hearn’s at 100mph jumped up his gates to try and find out where my money was.

“He said it was wishful thinking. I had to speak to HBOs boss from Barry Hearn’s office.

“But in the end I got my money.”

Herbie factfile

Real name: Herbert Okechukwu Maduagwu

Nickname: The Dancing Destroyer

Height: 6 ft 1.5 in (1.87 m)

Reach: 75 in (191 cm)

Nationality: Nigerian

Born: August 27 1971 in Owerri, Nigeria

Stance: Orthodox

Total fights: 53; Wins 49; Wins by KO 43; Losses 4; Draws: 0; No contests: 0

Hide is a two-time world heavyweight champion having held the WBO title twice. After challenging Michael Bentt for the WBO heavyweight title in 1994, Hide won in seven rounds and, despite failing to defend his title in 1995, Hide triumphed in 1996 and held the title for two consecutive years.

After losing to Vitali Klitschko in 1999 he moved down to cruiserweight level and in 2007 won the WBC International cruiserweight title.

His last professional fight was in 2010.

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