DUKE McKENZIE love to talk. The former three-weight world boxing champion admits as much himself.

“I’m like a hairdresser the amount I go on,” he laughs, something that should come as good news to those attending the St Andrew’s Sporting Club’s fight night in Glasgow on March 20 where the Londoner will be the guest of honour. A comfort break before McKenzie takes to his feet might be in order.

Loquaciousness is a common trait among boxers, a perennially eager bunch when it comes to talking about their prowess in the ring or the titles they have their eyes on. Talking about their problems, however, tends to be a different matter.

A reluctance to confess to any sort of weakness – especially a mental one - in such a macho environment is commonplace. Problems for the most part are kept bottled up.

It was something McKenzie experienced personally in the midst of a stellar 16-year professional career when his brother and life-long mentor, Dudley, took his own life in 1995 aged just 33.

McKenzie admits he hit rock bottom for a while but is now helping guide others through those difficult times as an ambassador for the mental health charity, Mind.

“Mental health was not something that was really spoken about when I was fighting,” he says. “I fell into working with Mind about 15 years ago when someone said I was almost like a counsellor the way I trained people at the gym.

“I didn’t know really know what I was doing. I’m not a doctor or a psychologist. I just was being me. But he asked if I could come along and talk to other people, especially those with mental health difficulties.

“I jumped at the chance as I love to talk. People with mental health problems often suppress so much emotion over the years. But if they have someone they can talk to on a regular basis it can make such a difference.

“Dudley used to always say to me, 'you can’t always give people money, a house or a car but you can always give them your time. And that’s far more valuable'.

“My brother was such an inspiration. He gave me the character I needed to become a world champion and I still think about him every day. I still don’t know why we lost him to suicide and it’s hard to deal with.

“I manage and live with that on a daily basis. And if I can help just one person so they don’t have to experience that [the suicide of a loved one] in their lives then it will be worth it.”

Only three British boxers know what it takes to become a three-weight world champion and only two in the past century. One is McKenzie and the other is Scotland’s Ricky Burns.

“I’ve got a lot of admiration for Ricky and what he’s achieved,” added McKenzie who has just opened his latest gym in Croydon with the snappy title, Duke Box.

“I know what he’s had to go through to become the best of the world at one weight and then adapt and come back and do it twice more. That takes a lot of sacrifice and commitment and Ricky can be very proud of that, just as I am.

“I wasn’t perfect as a fighter. I lost seven times professionally and six of those were probably fair and square. And you compare it to someone like Joe Calzaghe who fought 46 times and retired unbeaten. Even on his bad days he still emerged as a winner.

“So if I was to compare myself to Calzaghe, my career was flawed. But I’m sure he would also acknowledge the effort it takes to come back from a defeat and end up being crowned world champion at three different weights. That’s why someone like Ricky is a star in my eyes. It’s not an easy thing to achieve.”

McKenzie never boxed professionally in Scotland but it was defeating Edinburgh’s Danny Flynn to win the British flyweight title in 1985 that got his career up and running. Flynn never fought again.

“Danny wasn’t a bad fighter at all,” recalled McKenzie. “I just think he was overawed. In his mind this fight was so big that I think nerves got the better of him.

“I was very much in the ascendancy and there was a little bit of a buzz around me, especially having landed Mickey Duff as my manager.

“He was to boxing at that time what Alex Ferguson was to Manchester United. When you’ve got someone like that in your team then people start talking about you. And that seemed to effect Danny.”

McKenzie points to heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and his recent world title victory over Deontay Wilder as another example of the restorative powers of sport.

“What Tyson has just done is up there with some of the greatest achievements in sport. He’s been a drug user, alcoholic, struggled with depression – gone through the absolute mill. And he’s turned his life around.

“How he’s done that is beyond me as most people in that situation would be dead. So to go to Wilder's back yard and smash him to pieces was phenomenal. That’s a really inspirational story and I tip my hat to him. If he can turn his life around then anyone can.”

Tickets for Friday Fight Night at the St Andrew’s Sporting Club on March 20 are available from 0141 810 5700.