Boxer Nathan Quarless was floored by a gambling addiction as a teenager but through counselling pulled himself off the canvas ready to succeed in his cruiserweight career.

The 26-year-old from Liverpool was hooked by 19 and claimed getting clean is the ‘hardest thing he’s ever done’ after a relapse at 23 sent him spiralling to new lows before he learned to live without the rush betting provided in his free time.

An unbeaten prospect boasting a record of 8-0, Quarless is looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow Evertonian Tony Bellew by making it in the big time as a cruiser and having overcome his biggest challenge outside the ring it is now his sole focus.

“Stopping gambling is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Quarless, speaking in support of the EPIC Risk Management Pro Sport Advisory Board, which has been launched as the world’s first panel to investigate and act upon the risk of gambling harm affecting professional sports stars or eSports players.

“How do you live without it? Going from living up and down every day to living on a straight and narrow path – that was one of the things that really hit me the most and I needed a lot of counselling to come to terms with.

“I don’t think [gambling affected my boxing career]. Even if I was in the betting shop, I was always regimented to make sure I got to training on time and it did help me release a lot of anger and frustration after losing so much money.

“The dream is to make it, really. I’d love to win the British title, that’s one of the first ones before going on to bigger and better things.

“Obviously, I dream of being world champion, but I know how hard it is to get there, you’ve got to keep training so I’m not going to say that just yet.”

Based on his lived experience, Quarless - who fights Steve Collins Jr on November 26 - is fully behind EPIC’s new global collective made up of leading names from organisations representing professional sports players, eSports experts and gambling industry leaders, who will meet throughout the year to share best practice, highlight concerns and shape policy through their experience in gambling, gaming, esports, integrity, athlete welfare and lived experience.

It has been brought together by leading gambling harm minimisation consultancy EPIC Risk Management, which employs a number of current and former professional sports stars as facilitators in their worldwide training programmes to warn players across multiple sports of the heightened risk of gambling addiction in their sector, which is regularly recorded as being four times higher than among those who aren’t involved in elite sports.

Quarless is sponsored by EPIC after a chance meeting with CEO Paul Buck who was inspired by his poem about recovery and the boxer is adamant that the Pro Sport Advisory Board is needed to plug a gap in the infrastructure available to help struggling athletes.

“I think now the education and what EPIC are trying to achieve with the new Pro Sport Advisory Board is fantastic because it gives people like me a voice,” added Quarless.

“It gives people a voice to put their concerns forward or even if they need help, there’s someone there to help them.

“There’s nothing in place at the minute is there so it can only be better, and I look forward to seeing what EPIC do and I think a lot of people that need the help are going to come forward because of this.”

EPIC Risk Management Pro Sport Advisory Board. The World’s first panel looking into gaming and gambling harm minimisation for elite sport.