Andrew (Freddie) Flintoff was bullied at school and developed an eating disorder as he battled weight issues during his Test cricket career.
“I would stick my fingers down my throat to make myself sick,” Flintoff said. “Even after I had gone to good restaurants I would do it. I ended up losing about 15kg [33lb]. It became a very difficult habit to shake myself out of.”
Flintoff also spoke about his school days in Preston, where he was a victim of persistent bullying, and how his immersion in boxing has helped him process the anger and resentment related to that experience. “I had a very rough time at school. I wanted to play cricket and I frequently got knocked around because of it. I really wanted to retaliate but for some reason I couldn’t make myself. So now I want to put that side of my life to bed a little bit.
“I have no qualms about talking about it. It happened a while ago now. I suppose if anyone is feeling like that it is all right to talk about it. Maybe me speaking about it helps people who have been through it to feel that it’s OK to speak about it, too.” Freddie Flintoff speaking to Kevin Garside, Independent Newspapers.
Eating disorders amongst boys and men is becoming more common. The NHS carried out a snapshot survey in 2007 and found that an alarming 6.4% of adults had problems with food, and a quarter of these were males. More recent reports from the Royal College of Practitioners shows a 66% rise in the number of male hospital admissions for those suffering from eating disorders but, because of the reluctance of men to seek help, it is thought that this is only the tip of the iceberg.