Snooker star Shaun Murphy undergoes weight loss surgery after ‘fat-shaming’ on social media

·4 min read
 (World Snooker Tour)
(World Snooker Tour)

Shaun Murphy revealed he has undergone gastric sleeve surgery to help him lose weight and revive his snooker career after becoming fed up with being “fat-shamed” on social media.

The 40-year-old went under the knife in May for a procedure which has removed 80 per cent of his stomach and he says makes it almost impossible to put weight back on. He has since lost four stone and believes that being leaner can help him find more success on the table after struggling in recent times.

Shaun Murphy lost in the 2021 World Snooker Championship final (Getty Images)
Shaun Murphy lost in the 2021 World Snooker Championship final (Getty Images)

Murphy has been a consistent tournament winner and mainstay in the world’s top ten since bursting on to the scene as a 22-year-old by becoming the lowest-ranked player in history to win the World Snooker Championship in 2005. However, his last tournament victory came in February 2020 and although he reached the World final in 2021, last season saw him advance beyond the second round of just two events.

Those poor performances coincided with prolonged neck and back pain, the breakdown of his marriage and online abuse from trolls over his weight, leading him to believe this surgery was the best option to turn things round.

"I’ve had a lot of things going on in my life which contributed to the worst season of my career last season,” Murphy explained in an interview with Sportsmail.

"It’s been incredibly tough and one thing I’ve always struggled with is my weight. It was a very big decision to go under the knife, but after a lot of thought, I accepted that I was unable to sort my weight problem out. I had the surgery in May and so far I’ve lost about four stone.

"My weight has always fluctuated, but ultimately it comes down to discipline and I needed to do something about it to give me the best possible chance of being successful in the final third of my career.

"This last year has been one of the toughest, if not the toughest, of my life. Me and my wife Elaine separated, which has been really hard because we have two children. I started eating a lot more. Like alcohol it’s an addiction, but not one which is spoken about as much.

"Me and Elaine are tentatively trying for a reconciliation, but the breakdown of our marriage and my weight and injury problems obviously made playing snooker really tough. It was secondary to everything else.

"But I decided to do something about it because I’m sick of being fat-shamed on social media and not feeling good about myself. At this year’s World Championship I didn’t fit into my suit properly and didn’t feel good.

“The surgery is irreversible, so it really was a huge decision. I get that as a high-profile sportsman you expect to get some stick on social media and face criticism, but some of the personal attacks are really cruel.”

Shaun Murphy competed at a golf pro-am event earlier this summer (PA)
Shaun Murphy competed at a golf pro-am event earlier this summer (PA)

Murphy has long battled with his weight, admitting he has yo-yoed throughout his career but says listening to a legend of the game discuss the fitness of the current top players during May’s World Championship lit a spark in him.

"I’ve had 80 per cent of my stomach removed so now I can eat very little,” explained Murphy. “It’s pretty much impossible for me to ever put weight back on again. I used to go to WeightWatchers and really enjoyed it and I’ve lost weight throughout my career, it’s yo-yoed when I’ve dieted and got into exercise.

"But I was listening to Steve Davis in the commentary box at this year’s World Championship and something struck a chord with me. He wasn’t aiming his comment at me, but he said there was no secret the fitter players, those that had looked after themselves, were dominating.

"You only to have to look at Ronnie O’Sullivan. He’s the player who has looked after himself the most and he’s just won a seventh world title at 46. He’s getting better with age. And a lot of the other tournament winners like Neil Robertson and Judd Trump are fit. John Higgins has lost a lot of weight by spinning and I know a lot of professionals who have Peloton bikes so they can spin at home to stay fit."