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From the Mind of Darren Appleton {Part One}

From an early age I knew one day I would be a World Champion in sports. But every successful person, in sports or not, knows it’s a process and continues to be. We never stop learning and understanding.

From the age of say, six, my passion was sports. Education wasn’t a interest to me and missed a lot of school because of my love for sports. Nothing else mattered. My education was in sports from an early age; I studied different sports, the tactics, the mental aspect, and what it took to be a champion.

I’ve always said the best form of learning is understanding and learning from other great sportsmen, and these are what inspired me. I just wanted to be involved in sports.

Soccer and boxing were my sports, until one day in ‘92 my brother and I were spotted playing pool in a bar and the owner asked us to play in his local league — the rest is history.

1992: I started playing local leagues all over my area.

1993: I started playing bigger events around my region.

1994: I started to play pro/amateur tournaments with success

1995: I joined the UK tour against the best in the UK

1996: I turned professional; the first event I played as a pro, I won.

1998: I become World # 1 at English 8-Ball

The hardest part is staying at the top. It brings a lot of expectation and pressure.

In tournaments, I sometimes let myself down. Although I had huge success in my era — I won over 35 major titles and over 200 tournaments, more than anyone else — my main rival, Mick Hill, will have been very close to that number, and when I left English 8-Ball to go to American pool obviously he overtook that number.

The only thing I was missing was that I didn’t win the World Championship in English 8-Ball. I lost twice in the final, once to Mick Hill (2004, 11-9) and once to Mark Selby (2006, 11-7). The second one I thought I would win for sure because previous to this I had never lost to Mark (I beat him in tournaments and two big money matches.)

However, lady luck wasn’t on my side and I let it affect me.

Other years in the English 8-Ball World Championship I had heart breaking defeats: in 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2005 I lost the Quarter Finals 9-8. So when I left English 8-Ball I asked why didn’t I win it, because I knew I was good enough and the rest of the year I proved that as I won other tournaments.

Now I know the answer!

I tried too hard to play perfectly and not make mistakes. I put too much pressure on myself on a few accessions. A few times didn’t get the luck when need it and few times I blew it.

There were a few I played well, that just weren’t meant to be; especially in 2004. Sometimes when I got to the later stages, my preparation was no good; it was a mixture of things, but mainly myself to blame for most of them.

Later on, I would use all of this to my benefit, So, looking back now it’s probably a good thing I didn’t win there.

The recognition and exposure in English 8 ball was poor. First Place World Championship was around $12,000-$14,000. If a professional event was won, it was around $4,000 to the winner.

In 2006 I started playing American Pool, something I had thought about for a while. When the World 9 ball was in Wales Cardiff 1999-2003, ran by Matchroom sport. I qualified twice 2000/2002, but besides that I never really played.

So in 2006, I started playing American Pool IPT (International Pool Tournament). This is where it all started. That didn’t last long, so I decided to focus on 9 ball. I played a few events and did well, but I realized the game much tougher than I expected; so I decided at the end of 2006 and 2007 to spend time in the Philippines because that’s where most of the best players are and that’s where I really elevated my game.

American Pool is a different level from English 8 ball, not just in talent but, mentally and professionalism and giving it 100% on and off the table. I treated it as a full time job.

I learned so much out there, not just on the table but, how to be more patient and calm when things are not going well. I know everything else will be OK because I had a winning mentality going into American pool, and that won me a lot of money matches in Manila, USA, and the UK from 2006-2008.

To Be Continued…

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Photo Credit: JP Parmentier – Matchroom Sport 2015 jpparmentier.com  [Provided by Darren Appleton]


Darren “Dynamite” Appleton, from Pontefract West Yorkshire England, was into sports from a young age. A 15 years old his cousin was a professional English 8-ball pool player, and that’s how Darren got started. He joined a pool league with his brother, and never looked back. He went to national level very quickly, and turned professional at 19. He was number one in the world for six years in English 8-ball won over 200 tournaments—including over 30 major titles. In 2008 he started playing the tournament circuit full time. He won the world 10-ball that year, and the doors started opening up. He’s won world four world championships in four different disciplines; “I’m the only guy in history to win the 10, 8, and 9 and 8-ball world championships.” He is a five time Mosconi Cup champion, two time Challenge of Champions winner, two time US Open champion, plus many more. He now lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Angie.

Editor: Shaylyn Arthurs

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