Boxing industry veteran and best-selling author Gary Todd has turned from the boxing ring to release a coming-of-age memoir called Annie’s Boy, detailing his tough upbringing in 1970s and 80s Scotland.
In the gritty working class suburbs of Dundee, fear and violence were rife, and struggle was an everyday part of life.
Gary and his mother, Annie, were stuck in an abusive cycle, living in fear for their lives due to an intimidating and violent Father.
When Gary was only ten years old, everything came to a head as he was called to testify against his father in court and ultimately tried to end the abuse for good.
“My Mum’s story deserves to be told and she deserves to be remembered; what she endured and what she did for us every day,” explains Gary.
“We were poor and we struggled but she never gave up and, without me knowing it, she taught me never to give up.”
Todd’s Father ran a ‘shady’ business selling exotic animals, while his Mother worked predominantly in a watch factory, at times, juggling three jobs to provide for her family. After Gary’s Mum died in 2011, Gary realised his Australian born children knew nothing about his mother Annie and his Dundee upbringing.
No stranger to writing, as an internationally acclaimed author, he began to put pen to paper and started to detail the story of Annie’s Boy. Due to his grim childhood and upbringing, Todd rose above through a passion and love for boxing, coupling as a self-defence mechanism.
After moving to Sydney at just 21 years old, Gary has trained with, and interviewed over 100 world champion boxers, including Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquiao through the years, and documented these stories his two best selling books on boxing.
Annie’s Boy is a story of hope, quiet courage and perseverance documenting the lives of Gary and his mother and what they did to survive. Told from the perspective of Gary as a boy, the reader is put in the shoes of a young boy facing extreme adversity.
“I have a photo of our council flat in the multistorey towers in Dundee, Scotland, where I lived with my mum Annie, and I feel lucky to have it. It’s where we loved and laughed and cried, and it’s where we struggled and kept on going with the mindset that things would get better – even when they didn’t.”
“Living there gave me the resilience to persevere in life and to try to be the best I could be with what I had in me. After all these years, it’s still my home. It’s the place where I felt I belonged.”
“Even though the ‘multis’ were turned to dust years ago the memories still remain. I remember the smells, the sights and the sounds as if it were yesterday, and the humour, the high jinks of my youth and the way we all looked out for each other.
Image: Annie’s Boy – courtesy of New Holland Publishers