Last night after winning the first Alex Higgins Trophy, Mark King made an emotional speech after winning his first ranking snooker title after a 25 year wait. Struggling with form and battling a gambling addiction, King has come a long way in just a few years. Delighted with his win (9-8) over Barry Hawkins King’s family came on stage to celebrate his famous victory. Just a couple of years ago things were very different for Mark King.
King came to the Northern Ireland Open with just a tenner in his pocket. He even needed a loan from his dad, Bill, as he admitted struggling to make ends meat on the snooker tour.
Only a couple of years ago King was battling a crippling gambling addiction, huge debts, poor snooker performances and a marriage under enormous pressure. In an interview in 2011, King admitted when he was broke ” I found myself in a situation where i was even thinking about doing a robbery to get money to gamble. That is just not me, not who i am.”
Famously, King once sold his snooker table for £1000 and lost it all in 5 minutes on three spins of a roulette wheel. Life was bad for Mark as he owed £100,000 and squandered more than £500,000 in total. At one point King admitted he “wanted to kill myself.”
Since then, King has travelled the long, hard road of recovery. Now he hasn’t gambled in a long time and attends GA once a week to keep his addiction under control.
During his emotional speech last night as he collected the Alex Higgins Trophy and the cheque for £70,000, King admitted he had treated his partner like “absolute crap” during his years of gambling. He added ” to see that last two minutes, where (the kids) came out……I have been dreaming of that ever since they were born.”
Mark King also made a big tribute to his 83 year old father, who has been there for him in the good times and the bad. He was disappointed his father couldn’t be there to see him win, but it’s understood his father was ill with a flu.
King’s famous victory last night was enthralling for snooker fans and players alike. Twitter was buzzing with support from fellow snooker professionals.
At one point in the match, he looked out as Hawkins threatened to run away with the match at 5-1 up. From there on, King played a blinder and won 6 frames on the trot to move ahead 7-5. After Hawkins forced a deciding frame at 8-8, King held himself together well to finish the snooker match and win his first ranking event title.