Article by Guy Bell: A personal trainer and writer who was left to die two weeks after being born has become a top author, outselling The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on e-reader.
Paul Connolly, of Billericay was abandoned by his mother and was illiterate until the age of 25.
But the 53-year-old's tortured childhood has now propelled Paul to the peak of literary success and his debut work could soon make an appearance on the TV.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Paul"]My mother put all eight of her children into care when they were in London and a neighbour called social services when they found me by the bins. In my time growing up, six out of the eight boys I was in care with committed suicide before they were 30. Turning my life around was more luck than judgment.[/quote]
Paul found a way out of his violent upbringing by exploiting his talent for boxing and was taken in and fed by wives of the trainers.
The father-of-two was tipped for big things in the boxing world until a 70ft fall through a glass roof severed his hand and arm.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Paul"]I signed a contract to become a professional boxer but when I was doing a roofing job I fell and severed my hand right down the middle and almost had my arm taken off. I became interested in rehabilitation and helping out people with scoliosis. It means working with kids who need operations to straighten out their backs. Once I had my accident I knew I had to study and learn to read and write to get into fitness and injury rehab.[/quote]
The in-demand trainer has helped Mickey Rourke and Demi Moore get into shape for movie roles, completely turning his life around.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Paul"]You really couldn't make this stuff up. I should be dead or in prison. What has changed me is meeting my wife Jo and having the kids. She has shown me the way and the difference between good and bad. I have been shot, stabbed and bitten, but now I have been violence free since 2003. My story isn't just rags to riches, it is much more than that.[/quote]
The Kindle version of Paul's story, Against All Odds, sold half a million copies and topped the best sellers chart on Amazon, prompting a phone call from a publisher.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Paul"]I got a phone call from John Blake, a publisher from London, around Christmas time in 2010. It was a very posh voice saying I had overtaken Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as the bestseller on Kindle with half a million copies sold. I hung up because I thought it was one of my mates having a laugh and he called back and said he wanted to publish it. Now both Endemol and the BBC have been in touch about turning the book into a film or a docudrama.[/quote]
Paul is determined his two sons, Archie, six, and Harley, 11, have the best possible introduction to the world and is working alongside charities to ensure the same for other children.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Paul"]I was never given a hug as a kid and never had the little things while growing up. I guess because I never had a childhood when I was younger I was learning from Jo and having that childhood at the same time as my kids. Now I am involved with a lot of kids' charities. I helped Beanstalk raise £170,000 with a charity ball that Boris Johnson went to.[/quote]
Article by Guy Bell, Ongar Gazette