The Pugilist

‘How Ricky Hatton saved my life’ – homeless man’s touching story

Richard Burns-Wallace was seriously thinking of ending his life one New Year's Eve but says a random meeting with British boxer Ricky Hatton saved him.

The young homeless man, who was 22 at the time of the meeting, says snow was falling with temperatures of around -15 degrees when he was hiding in a doorway on Kings Street in Manchester.

He planned to jump from one of the bridges in the city to end his life having already spent four-and-a-half years out on the streets. He had attempted suicide several times previously.

But that was when Hatton, who was out enjoying the festive period with two friends, made a chance meeting with the homeless man really matter.

"It was a horrible period of my life as I had got attacked quite a few times, homeless people are an easy target," Richard told the Manchester Evening News.

"Christmas Day is the worst day of the year, as it’s usually bitterly cold and there is nothing open so you can’t even get yourself a brew to try and warm yourself up, and there is no one to talk to.

"On that New Year’s Eve I’d had enough it was so cold and I was feeling very, very low," he added.

"I’m into boxing so obviously knew who Ricky was, and then I couldn’t believe it as he had spotted me in the doorway and came over.

"We had a lovely chat then at the end of it, he said to me, 'Well you look like a nice guy, who doesn’t have too much of a problem with drink or drugs so Happy New Year!'"

As a result of the encounter, Hatton gave him half a bottle of Cristal champagne worth a staggering £150, a Cuban cigar and £60 in cash. Oh, and his autograph, of course.

"I was in heaven afterwards,” Richard said. "I felt like a king, I really think Ricky saved my life that night.

"It was the fact that someone that well known had bothered to talk to me. He made me feel like someone cared.

"I think it’s amazing that he makes the effort to talk to random people on the streets, it’s like he has not forgotten his roots.

"And the one thing I’ll never sell is his autograph, when I look at it, it always reminds me of that night."

The humble and generous Hatton commented on Richard's story when asked in turn by the Daily Post.

"It’s sad seeing homeless people and whilst I can’t remember this particular man I regularly give money to the homeless," he said.

"I don’t go round bragging about it it’s just nice to help those who are less fortunate than myself.

"It’s even nicer when I’ve found out that I have helped someone and they have turned their lives around. Let’s hope that with Christmas fast approaching more people can help the homeless.”

Such heartwarming stories at this time of year are truly inspiring. Hats off to you, Ricky.