Glenn Cooper has been stabbed eight times, shot twice and has survived a heart attack, but it was a snapped ankle from a three-on-one fight that nearly destroyed him, ABC News reports.
Better known as “Guru Glenn” around the Melbourne suburb of Frankston for his vast fishing knowledge, the former bouncer who spent years in jail says the hobby helped turn his life around.
He is now using his passion for the sport to change the lives of troubled youths and people with disabilities.
“The benefits they get out of it is not just fishing, but social interaction.
“There’s a lot more to fishing than just throwing a line in and catching a fish. The fish is the extra bonus.”
Mr Cooper has helped thousands of people struggling with their mental health across the Mornington Peninsula over the past nine years. But he had a pretty tough upbringing himself.
Born to alcoholic parents, he suffered an abusive childhood, was sexually assaulted in state care and suffered a devastating injury while working as a bouncer when he was attacked by a group of drunks.
Dozens of operations for a snapped ankle later, Glenn was confined to a wheelchair for five years.
During the time when he was unable to walk, he spent most days with his rod on the Frankston pier.
“While I was sitting there minding my own business, I used to have a lot of people see me and come up and ask, ‘Why are you in a wheelchair?'” he said.
“All of a sudden they would tell me their life story and I would just sit there and listen to them and then I’d show them how to fish.”
That’s how his program, That’s The Thing About Fishing, was born.
Glenn Cooper connected with other people while fishing off a pier at Frankston. (ABC News: Scott Jewell)