Boxer to break world record to raise awareness about mental health

By Jessica Tyson

Boxing trainer Albie Roebeck is preparing to break a Guinness World Record of the Longest Punchbag Marathon which currently stands at 55 hours.

After suffering from depression in the past, he's taking on the challenge to raise awareness about mental health and suicide in a bid to help others affected.

“I've always thought about ways of how I’m going to do that, how I want to achieve it…What better way than attach a world record attempt to it.”

Throughout his life, Roebeck, 34, has suffered from depression on three separate occasions.

“I was grateful to have the support network that I did, have the social workers and the right people in place professionally, to steer me on the right course.”

According to the latest research by the Ministry of Health, Māori males were twice as likely as non-Māori males to report a high or very high probability of having an anxiety or depressive disorder. 

Since starting his campaign, Roebeck has already been approached by others affected who have confided in him.

“It’s been really, really humbling and satisfying to me that what I’m doing is obviously playing a huge part especially with youth, males, and Māori and Pacific Islander people.”

Roebeck plans to box for 60 hours non-stop, beating the current record holder Azad Haidarian from Iran. He aims to throw two punches per second, adding up to more than 7000 in total.

He says sticking to his core values will help him overcome any mental and physical challenges he could face throughout the 60 hours.

“Just core values, aligning myself to those and self-affirmations like telling myself what I’m doing is for a good purpose and what I’ve been saying the whole time is ‘Your loved, you're worth it and you mean something to everyone’.”

The support from others will also keep him going. 

“In particular my kids, they're really, really important to me. So as long as hopefully my son and my daughter will come through at some stage, says Roebeck.

Another person coming along to support him is professional boxer and former professional rugby league player Monty Betham.

“I have always looked up to him and at one point in time when I was trying to further my boxing career he was my coach.”

Roebeck is also raising funds at a givealittle page for two charities as part of his campaign; the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and Wood For The Trees.

“When I first started this it was all about the raising awareness phase, and I think about eight weeks ago I’ve just started getting into the fundraising thing. So there's no set amount. However, I really want to get to 10,000 by the end of September.”

Roebeck will take on the challenge on October 21, the same day as his 35th birthday.

WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

• 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
• https://www.lifeline.org.nz/services/suicide-crisis-helpline
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202