Welcome back for post number two of the day, for something a little bit different. Even by my usual blog tours, this one stands out as something intriguing and individual, and I really hope you find it as fascinating as I have.
Terroll Lewis is an ex footballer turned fitness guru – but also an ex gang member. His book, One Chance, is publishing tomorrow, and is the first time a Brixton gang member has come forward to talk about the realities of the time spent not just within a gang, but also in prison for gang activities. He has spent his time since release doing all he can to advise and guide young men, and young black men especially, helping them to avoid being sucked in like he was.
“One Chance sheds light on the continuing appeal of gangs, how young people are lured into them, why they exist, what they do, how they’re formed and how they make money, as well as how toxic masculinity manifests itself within gang/street culture. The book also looks at the societal expectation around men and their mental health, and how physical fitness and mental health are intrinsically linked. Not only is One Chance a truly authentic guide for the urban youth, steering them through the world we live in today – from education and relationships, to jail and mental health issues – it also has the power to educate wider society on the experiences that this frequently demonised demographic face.”
“According to my birth certificate, I’m Terence Kersean Lewis. My unusual middle name is a nod towards my Irish roots on Mum’s side of the family and, while I share my dad’s first name, my mum called me Terroll from the get-go, so that’s who I am: Terroll Kersean Lewis. I think Mum’s motive for changing my name was to piss off my dad, although she’s never admitted as much. But, yeah, it’s fair to say that my parents’ relationship was volatile from the start.
They even argued the first time they met at a party in Mum’s flat, around November 1988. Her flatmate, Susi, had got the party started when she invited friends over from the Loughborough and Myatts Fields estates. Mum came home that evening to encounter Terence for the very first time, blocking her own door to her, his lips clamped around a fat joint. ‘Yo, wagwan,’ he went, filling the entrance with his six-foot frame. ‘W’cha doin’? You ain’t getting in here.’
Mum laughed. ‘I live here,’ she said. ‘It’s my flat. Get out my way.’
‘I said you ain’t getting in. How do I know who you is; where’s your ID?’
‘What the fuck? I told you, I live here, I don’t need no fucking ID … ’ And so the row continued, insults flying until Susi appeared and confirmed Mum’s identity. Terence muttered an apology. Mum gave him a dirty look as she barged past. ‘Skin up then,’ she shot. They got drunk and stoned together and had a laugh. Terence admitted he’d mistaken Mum for a jake because she was the only white girl there. They smoked more weed and realised they fancied one another. And that’s how my mum and dad got it on. Romantic, innit?“
I think this book is certainly going to be a wild ride, and a real tale from the very start, as we see above, to where Terroll is now: a striking role model, a winner of awards, and a changed man.
Thank you to Bei at Midas for getting me involved in this tour, and to Terroll for sharing so much of himself with the world.