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John McAvoy: From Life Sentence to Life of Purpose

By October 3, 2022January 22nd, 2024No Comments
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Episode #708



How does one retain hope in the face of a life squandered? What is the catalyst for 180-degree transformation? And what is the path to redemption? 

If you ask today’s guest, human metamorphosis isn’t a function of drive—it’s sparked by opportunity. 

If you’re someone who actually believes that people don’t change, prepare for a major mindset shift.

Meet John McAvoy.

Returning for his 2nd appearance on the podcast, John is positive transformation rendered in human form—and his story is one of the most compelling, improbable, inspirational, and cinematic tales you will ever be privileged to hear.

The McAvoy name might ring a bell for longtime listeners. He first appeared on the show a little over four years ago on episode #379—a conversation that ranks among the most memorable and impactful in the ten-year history of the show.

For those unfamiliar, John is a former high-profile armed robber, one of Britain’s most successful career criminals and most wanted men. His reckoning was delivered in the form of a double life sentence (the 2nd of 2 prison stints) on the notorious Belmarsh high-security wing—a space he shared with extremist cleric Abu Hamza and the 7/7 bombers.

“I’ve nearly been shot dead by the police—twice. I was handed a life sentence at 24. I’ve been around some of the most dangerous men in the world, actual psychopaths… I used my body as a vehicle to get out of prison. When I race, I feel tremendously honored that I can compete.”


To the rational outsider, John’s future was bleak. But a chance encounter with prison gym indoor rowing machine would ultimately change his life forever. In short shrift, John ended up breaking a cluster of British and World indoor rowing records while incarcerated, and upon parole, began forging a new life as a professional endurance athlete.

Today, John is a Nike-sponsored Ironman athlete living in the Alps, a vegan (not my doing—I promise), and a stalwart mouthpiece for prison reform who has testified at 10 Downing Street. But above all, he’s a staunch advocate for the inherent power we all possess to course correct the trajectory of our lives, no matter how dire the circumstances.

I was in London recently and couldn’t resist the opportunity to reconvene with this legend. This episode is old school—no video, just two guys vibing across a kitchen table. We pick right up where we last left off four years prior and dive even deeper into John’s remarkable story to further mine the extraordinary, latent potential we all hold to better ourselves.

As always, the podcast streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, but you can give also it a listen on YouTube if that’s your jam.

As you’ll soon discover, John’s greatest heist isn’t a bank—it’s his life.


Peace + Plants,

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