Ben Cohen has revealed the tragic motivation for taking part in Strictly Come Dancing – the brutal killing of his dad.
The England rugby ace signed up to the BBC One show to raise awareness of his anti-bulling charity, the Ben Cohen Stand Up Foundation, which he launched after his father died in 2000.
“My reasons [for taking part] were solely to put my foundation out there,” Ben, 34, told LOOK.
“My father was brutally attacked by five guys and the knock on effect on our family was huge.
“I used my anger, pain and suffering to inspire greatness in some way and I channelled that into my rugby and that’s why I wanted to win the world cup and how I managed to become one of the best players in the world.
“[Through Strictly] I want to promote what we do with and how we support and cooperate with other organizations. It’s basically raising awareness of what bullying does long term.”
Ben’s dad Peter, 58, was beaten to an inch of his life after stepping in to protect someone at a Northampton night club owned by Ben’s brother, Justin. He was in a coma for three weeks and seemed to be improving before he died a month later on November 14, 2000. Three men were jailed for violent disorder and Ben set up the foundation a year later.
According to Ben he takes after his dad on the dance floor – but not, he says in a good way. He said: “T
he whole of my family are like ‘Christ you’re like your dad, he’s got two left feet’. He can’t dance and nor can I. I’m more of a head nodder at a bar.”
Judging by the group dance this weekend, which saw Ben looking at ease with the dance moves, he might be playing down his dance floor prowess.
And with Strictly professional Kristina Rihanoff by his side he’s got a good chance of getting his hands on the glitter ball. She took singer Donovan all the way to the Blackpool final in 2009. This week Kristina told LOOK how she has been invited by Ben’s wife Abbie to visit the couple’s home in Northampton.
Ben, who is clinically deaf and has just 30-33% hearing in each ear, is dad to five-year-old twin girls, Harriette and Isabelle.
By Gemma Calvert
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