John McAvoy

John is a former prolific high profile armed robber who has found redemption through the power of sport. Having broken both British and World indoor rowing records whilst in prison he is now forging a new life as an endurance athlete, coach and speaker and hopes that his story of rehabilitation can help and inspire others to change their lives for the better.

Mens Lightweight Indoor Rowing Records:

Longest Continual Row – 45 hours – World & British Record 2012
Fastest 10k – 34m:39.9s – Mens Light Weight Rowing Record 2011
Fastest 21k– 1h.15m.56s – Mens Light Weight Rowing Record 2011
Fastest 100k – 6h.32m.31s – Mens Light Weight Rowing Record 2011
Furthest 30min – 8605m – Mens Light Weight Rowing Record 2011
Furthest 24hr – 263,936m – Mens Light Weight Rowing Record 2011
Fastest 42k – 2h.37m.31s – Mens Light Weight Rowing Record 2010

Racing Results

2012 – 2014
English Indoor Rowing Champion – 2012 – 6m.29s Light Weight – Gold
European Indoor Rowing Bronze Medalist – 2012 – 2k 6m.22m – Bronze
London to Brighton 110k Ultramarathon – 2012 – 18th
Ballbuster – 2014 – 8th

London Ultra Duathlon – 2015 – 4h.26m – 3rd
Ironman UK – 2015 – 10h.03m – 28th overall

Manchester Marathon – 2016 – 2h.52m – 141st
Ironman Staffordshire – 2016 – 4h.31m – 5th in Age Group – 30th overall
Ironman Frankfurt European Champs – 2016 – 70th overall – 10th in Age Group 9h.10m
London Ultra Duathlon – 2016 – 4h.21m – 4th overall

The Team

Keith Sanders

Perform Fitness

Keith of Perform Fitness has worked with John since 2014. Johns previous, physical progression had been self driven but it was clear that there was a world of knowledge that could be tapped into with the right coach. After initial discussions John was convinced that Keith and his support team could offer the required training specificity and structure to help him push forward and make the most of his athletic potential.

Terry Williamson

In Search of Brilliance

Terry met John whilst he was still in prison and on day release at a local gym. John was always looking for any edge he could gain and initially worked with Terry on some of the psychological and mental aspects of performance for the upcoming European Indoor Rowing Championships. A resulting Bronze medal was just the beginning and John describes Terry as his “Coach, mentor and friend”. Terry now acts as his manager and agent and they continue to explore opportunities to help others change their lives for the better.

Alex des Monstiers


Alex has worked with John for the last few years and his magic hands help keep him in top shape and injury free. When you train hard for endurance events the accumulative effects on the body can be devastating and the work Alex does is invaluable over a long season.

Think Inc.

Chris at Think Inc helped John back in the beginning to get his incredible story out via a blog and is now the creative talent behind his online presence.



  • Can’t wait to get back into the clear blue water of the Alps and swim surrounded by mountains ⛰ 🏊‍♂️ #swiming #swim #openwater #swimmin #ironmantri #ironman #swimbikerun #fitness #fitfam #training #huub #huubdesign
    76    Can’t wait to get back into the clear blue water of the Alps and swim surrounded by mountains ⛰ 🏊‍♂️ #swiming #swim #openwater #swimmin #ironmantri #ironman #swimbikerun #fitness #fitfam #training #huub #huubdesign
  • @wearejustso I think the only thing me and @tomcruiseoffcial _ have in common is our height 🤗#cameraman #filmmaking #sports #sports #tv #redbull @jpc_stevens
    58    @wearejustso I think the only thing me and @tomcruiseoffcial _ have in common is our height 🤗#cameraman #filmmaking #sports #sports #tv #redbull @jpc_stevens
  • Sport brings people together like none other @nike 
Get Involved @ #nike #justdoit #nikelondon #nike #powerofsport #sport #sports
    28    Sport brings people together like none other @nike UNTIL WE ALL WIN. #EQUALITY Get Involved @ #nike #justdoit #nikelondon #nike #powerofsport #sport #sports
  • Was a long day filming with @wearejustso but a project that’s been a pleasure to be part of. #wearejustso #filmmaking #film #sport #ironmantri #camera #studio #set #filmphotography
    100    Was a long day filming with @wearejustso but a project that’s been a pleasure to be part of. #wearejustso #filmmaking #film #sport #ironmantri #camera #studio #set #filmphotography


  • #skill #winning #control
    0    #skill #winning #control
  • #perfect #imperfect
    3    #perfect #imperfect
  • #dreambig #peterpan #belief #nofear
    3    #dreambig #peterpan #belief #nofear
  • #kids #liveinthemoment
    6    #kids #liveinthemoment


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Ironman Frankfurt 2016

When I signed up for Ironman Frankfurt last year in July I didn’t even know if I would be allowed to travel aboard. This is due to the restrictions imposed on me by the UK probation service. To be fair they have been very supportive since my release but this was a big step and I took the gamble and paid the entry fee. I desperately wanted to race the best athletes in the world and outside of Kona this is the race. […]

The journey so far

It was just over 3 years ago and I was still trapped…

I was sat in a prison cell, dreaming about my release and eventually becoming a professional athlete in the outside world.

Although I held a few British and World records on a rowing machine, this was the only proof I had of the physical ability I harnessed which could potentially turn these dreams into a reality. I had wasted almost a decade of my life locked up without the freedoms most people take for granted and this gave me an incredible drive to succeed. And nobody truly understood this apart from me.


2015 – A Year of Progress

As 2015 draws to its conclusion I thought I would write one last post to reflect on the year and to share some exciting news….

Firstly, on the training and racing front it’s been a fairly successful year – I’ve learnt a hell of a lot and continue to look for ways in which to push on and improve. One area that made a big difference was the decision to get a specific Ironman coach who could set me a training plan and offer his advice because of his own previous race experience. This is something I just didn’t have so thanks to Keith at Perform Fitness. I feel I’m starting to move nearer my potential as an ironman athlete…


Ironman 2015 – the Road to Redemption

Ironman UK was my A race of the year. This was the one where I wanted to put last years disastrous race to bed. My goal was to podium my age group (30-34) but I was not aiming to qualify for Kona. Not because I don’t want to race the World Champs but because I knew the US would not grant me a visa because of my past criminal convictions for armed robbery.


At the Sharp End

I’m coming to the end of a big block of training and moving into the final 12 weeks before I get to my priority race of the year – Ironman UK.

I thought I would write about how training has gone up until now.


2015 – A Big Year

Well as it’s been a while since my last blog so I thought I would do my first one of 2015 which is a big year for me.

Last year was a mix of emotions but I had some really great things happen in my personal life. I gained permission to travel abroad for the first time in 10 years and went to a French training camp in the Alps with Hywel Davis who is an athlete I admire and respect.

I also had opportunities to work with some big charities  – helping kids to escape a life of crime using sport as a vehicle to better their lives and hopefully realise their true potential.


Media. Press. Audio & TV/Video

Brand Partners

John is always looking for interesting and challenging sponsors to join him on his journey. To enquire about helping john please contact him here.

Contact John

Coaching and Training Services

Get in touch

John offers various services relating to his story and his sporting pursuits as follows:

Personal Training: Either 1 on 1 or Group Training.

Sports Coaching: Bespoke, ongoing services that includes testing, training and coaching programs for run, bike and swim. Many of these services are available through a network of experienced coaches.

Key Note Speaking: Based around his incredible life changing story and also his in depth knowledge and experience of endurance training.

Please contact John for further details.

Stay Connected

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