Speaking on sky sports series: Life Lessons Through Sports, Jimmy White, a six-time world snooker championship runner up over ten years, talked about his experience while playing snooker, how he showed patience and determination, being consistent and all of that.
The “People’s Champion”
Popularly known as ‘people’s champion,’ he revealed how it all started for him. How he played at local snooker clubs with a couple of friends, fell in love with the game, and made so much money out of it. Despite the amounts of money he was making, his passion for the game never changed.
“I’ve been on the road for forty years. There was a guy named Bob Davis who has a black taxi, and we would put a pin on the map and would travel in his taxi with Tony Meo” jimmy explained how it all started. “Within a couple of hours of finding the local snooker club, we challenged anybody for the game, and of course, being two guys, there were plenty of people who thought they could win. We just had three years of us going all around the country, beating everybody for money.”
“I was going to tournaments up and down the country, and I was able to win anything from five to seven pounds. It was a huge amount of money from nowhere, but my love for the game has never changed. I still get a fantastic buzz going to practice and going to play tournaments as I did when I was a kid”.
White may have been an excellent player at that time, but he has been defeated by other champions once or twice. Like in 1994 when Stephen Hendry edged him out with an 18-17. He was devastated by that defeat. He has also lost to Steve Davis and John Parrot in Sheffield finals. Those defeats broke him, but not entirely. At 57 years old, he won the 2019 world seniors championship at the crucible.
White also admitted that youthful exuberance accompanied by ignorance got the best of him at the beginning of his career. At a time and there were only four Tv channels, and snooker was a prime time viewing, one can imagine. He said he did a lot of things that he is not very proud of. He listened to no one, gambled, and was under the influence of drugs.
“My perspective at the age of 20, 21 was to go with the flow. My biggest problem was I’m my own man, and I didn’t take advice from anybody.” White admitted. “I got plenty of advice from my family and close friends, but I was a roller-coaster, and I was having fun. Unfortunately, the alcohol and drugs came along, and in between all that, I was playing snooker and also gambling. It was insane looking back,” he added.
We all make inevitable mistakes at some points in our lives, and we regret it, but what are we telling the generation after us, what do we say to our children, how will we advise them if we don’t make mistakes? Speaking about mistakes, white said he made a ‘mistake’ not going to Sheffield to gain more experience of playing at an elite level.
Can Jimmy White win the world championship?
He had won the Masters title in 1984, but fighting back at Steve Davis was tough. He was defeated. As if facing Davis is not enough, he had to face the ‘incredible potter with self-belief,’ Stephen Hendry. Six years after he returned to the finals, he was faced with numerous defeats, but he believes he will bounce back again and even win the World Championships.
“This might sound crazy, but I still believe I can win the world championships now. I only have to produce the form from the practice table, but keeping the consistency, you can lose focus. I still make 147s. I still compete at a high level- it’s just getting it right on the day. People might think that’s realistic because of my age, but it’s not the football or boxing, so as long as your eyes are ok, and you have a love for the game and a desire to practice, desire to win, who knows.”
Mike Tyson is 54-years-old and planned a comeback recently, so what should stop Jimmy White? Your guess is as right as mine.