From street-fighter and bodybuilder to doctor and property magnate: Burnley man publishes book on fascinating life story

A Burnley-born boxer-turned-doctor has published a book on his lifelong 'metamorphosis' which saw him transform himself from a six-stone 14-year-old to a 16-stone 20-year-old street fighter, emigrate to Perth and become a bouncer, and then return to the North West where he built a highly-successful property portfolio.

By Jack Marshall, Reporter
Tuesday, 19th January 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th January 2021, 1:15 pm
Boxer, Bouncer, and Now a Doctor by Jeff Slater (cover pic, credit: Boxer, Bouncer, and Now a Doctor Facebook)
Boxer, Bouncer, and Now a Doctor by Jeff Slater (cover pic, credit: Boxer, Bouncer, and Now a Doctor Facebook)

It's fair to say Jeff Slater has led an interesting life.

Describing life in Burnley as an 18-year-old in 1974 as 'tough', Jeff was in a pub in Worsthorne with a few mates when conversation turned to their desires to see the world and travel. "[But] you needed a Visa, a work permit, money, all of which we didn't have," says Jeff. But he wasn't disuaded.

On a whim with his friend Steve, he booked a free ticket to Perth, Western Australia which didn't require him to have a Visa but soon became entangled in the seedy underbelly of Perth's nightlife.

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Jeff Slater

"There were dark times," explains Jeff. "I ended up being a stand-over man for some pretty grim moments; I did most things for money. I used to make sure bikers didn't beat up men engaging in sex with each other in public toilets. I fought in the streets and I worked as a bouncer at this place called The Royal Show where you had to last so many rounds with a boxer.

"I was a tough kid and it was a tough life," he says. "For two years, it was hard."

Disenchanted with life Down Under, Jeff returned to Burnley at 21. Still without any real education to speak of, he got a job at Lucas Aerospace as a labourer. But he knew it would never work for him long-term.

"I remember saying to a guy 'how can anyone work in a factory for 20 years?' and he just said 'you'll be the same - you'll get married, get a mortgage, and you'll be effed'."

Jeff in his weightlifting days

He knew education was the way out and so studied for a few B-Units - the equivalent to two A Levels - at Nelson and Colne College whilst working on the doors of clubs and pubs across Burnley. Fascinated by adolescent psychotherapy, he then went to he University of Bradford and completed two degrees - a BA in Social Psychology and Sociology and an MSc in Industrial Sociology.

He then completed a doctorate at Lancaster University on violence in working class culture with a focus on social psychology, anthropology, and the real meaning of violence. He earned his PhD in 1996 at the age of 39.

"Looking back, I have no regrets," says Dr Slater, who now lives in Worsthorne and whose book Boxer, Bouncer, and Now a Doctor is a reflection on his life and his doctoral studies. "There's a lot of pride in what I've achieved."

Jeff receiving his doctorate in 1996.