Shaun Murphy: Former world champion explains why gastric bypass surgery is ‘life-changing’

Shaun Murphy told the BBC’s Framed snooker podcast that he was “up to 20 stone” at this year’s World Championships.

Shaun Murphy says hitting “rock bottom with my mental health” convinced him to undergo “life-changing” gastric bypass surgery.

Murphy, 40, a former world, UK and Masters champion, had gastric sleeve surgery over the summer.

The procedure involves removing a large portion of the stomach, limiting the ability to consume excessive amounts.

“I wish I had done it 20 years ago because it feels like it changed my life for the better,” Murphy told BBC Sport. Framed podcast.

“I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life. I was the fattest kid at school, I feel like I’ve been dieting since I was 15, probably younger, and I’ve reached the end of fat with that.

“I hit rock bottom in my mental health, I was on the floor. I was so close to going to the doctor because of depression, anxiety, I couldn’t go out, I was screaming in the street.

“On social media people were sending me horrible messages and comments and direct messages on Instagram and Twitter.

“And finally I thought, I have to do something about this, this is going to be the end of me, mentally and maybe physically.”

“I couldn’t tell you the last time I finished a cup of coffee”

Murphy, one of 11 players to claim snooker’s prestigious World, UK and Masters ‘Triple Crown’ title, says he has shed four stone in the three-and-a-half months since the operation.

“Now I can eat whatever I want, but I can literally eat very, very little,” she explained in her podcast chat with BBC Sport presenter Shabnam Younus-Jewell.

“I couldn’t tell you the last time I finished a coffee because I can’t physically take that much liquid in one go – if I sit there with a pint of Guinness I’ll still be down my first pint. everyone else is on their third.

“So I can still do the same things. But before I would eat a whole packet of cookies and then go for a packet of chips, I’m done with that.”

The Essex-born potter, who grew up in Northamptonshire, says she chose the drastic option of surgery after feeling she had exhausted all other options for weight loss.

“I’ve lost weight, I’ve gained weight pretty consistently over the last 20 years and I’ve tried every diet,” Murphy added.

“I’ve tried to be very cautious and careful with my calorie counting, I’ve been to a lot of clubs and I’ve seen success with those methods.

“Keeping the weight off was always a struggle. When you’re out on tour you eat late, you’re often eating junk, and I just couldn’t discipline myself.

“I ran out of patience. I went up almost 20 stone at the World Championships this year, so I knew I had to do something.

“There are three or four types [of gastric surgery] – I wanted the most extreme, the irreversible. Since my stomach is now so small, it is highly unlikely that I will ever be able to physically consume enough calories to gain weight again.

The last goal to mark the first place in the world

Although he chose to have the surgery for health reasons, Murphy, nicknamed “The Magician,” hopes the disappearance of his waistline can also help him regain success on the table.

Murphy has won nine ranking titles in his career – including the 2005 World Championships, where he burst onto the scene as a qualifier – but his last victory came in 2020 at the Welsh Open.

Shaun Murphy was - and remains - the third seed to win the World title in 2015, behind Alex Higgins and Terry Griffiths.
Murphy remains the third seed to win a World title behind Alex Higgins and Terry Griffiths.

He reached the final of the 2021 Crucible, losing to Mark Selby, but after more than 15 years as a mainstay in the top 10, he is in danger of dropping out of the world’s top 16.

“An addition to that [the surgery] is that it’s going to have a huge impact on every aspect of my life, including my career,” added Murphy.

“To be able to lean better on the table from the base point to get down to the shot. If you’re carrying any extra weight, it makes it quite difficult.

“The Crucible this year was a classic example. It’s quite a funny clip actually, in the game against Stephen Maguire, I missed the ball with my wrist. But that was because I couldn’t get it over the table.

“If you’re in the back listening to the MC waiting to introduce you and your shirt doesn’t fit, your vest and pants are too tight, it puts you in the wrong mindset.”

John Higgins and Mark Allen are among the players with games benefited from weight loss in recent times and Murphy hopes it applies to him.

“Really, the only goal I’ve achieved yet is to get number one in the rankings, I’ve never been able to say I’m number one in the world,” he added.

“I’m pretty clear about the classification for the coming seasons and if I complete my performance and start putting some balls in my pockets again, start climbing the ladder.”

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