He is the bare-knuckle fighter who rose to fame with his brawling on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
But TV hardman Paddy Doherty says his days of scrapping are behind him after winning his biggest fight of all – a seven-month battle with prostate cancer.
Paddy, 60 – who appeared in Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men – wants a peaceful life after the good news in March following six hours of surgery.
Today he tells the Sunday People how the ordeal that once left him suicidal has given him a new-found appreciation for life.
He said: “I’m a man’s man but I’m not ashamed to admit when they gave me the all-clear I cried with happiness. I appreciate life so much now it’s unbelievable.
“Lots of people used to try to pick fights and I’d be a divvy and fight back. Now I turn the other cheek.
“Call me what you want. All I want is peace and happiness.”
To celebrate his restored health, Paddy has completed a string of extraordinary bucket-list activities to be televised early next year.
Last month he travelled to Japan, where he spent three and a half weeks ticking off 14 challenges, including samurai martial arts lessons, swimming with dolphins, hot air ballooning and catching electric eels with his bare hands.
The star also visited a rice field and climbed a volcano as part of the amazing trip with presenter pal Dan Coll, 58, who has also been treated for prostate cancer.
Paddy said: “I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie. It gives me a rush to do scary stuff. And nothing could be worse than prostate cancer. Fear just goes away from you.
“I did crazy things that I never dreamed I would do when I was getting my treatment. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Every day you were thinking, ‘This is too good after being ill.’”
Some challenges were so hair-raising he told his devoted wife Roseanne only moments before doing them for fear she would worry.
The couple, who are based at a caravan site in Queensferry, North Wales, have been wed for 40 years, had ten kids together and have 19 grandkids and one great-granddaughter.
Paddy said: “I called my lovely woman twice a day. She told me not to bungee jump so told her I wouldn’t. Then on the day just before I called her and said sorry but I’m gonna have to do it and hung up.
“She’s saying, ‘You’re gonna give me a heart attack!’ But I did it, I jumped 160 metres off a bridge and it was the most amazing thing.”
But the biggest shock was his unexpected fanbase in Japan.
“The way they treated me over there was a joke,” he said.
“It was so fantastic. Everyone recognised me, I couldn’t believe it.
“They all knew me from Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men and Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. Honest to God, I’m not bragging, it was thousands of people asking for selfies.”
Born in Manchester to Irish parents, Paddy found notoriety when Danny interviewed him for his Bravo series about Britain’s most feared men in 2009.
The victory, he admits, still astonishes him. He said: “I’m a nobody. I never thought I’d last in there. After a week I went to the diary room and said I’ve had enough, I want to go back to my woman.
“They told me I couldn’t because the public kept voting for me. And then I won. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t.”
He has appeared in a string of other reality shows but still has one on his personal bucket list to tick off.
“I’d love from the bottom of my heart to go into the jungle,” he said. “I’d have the biggest laugh. I was supposed to go on I’m a Celeb twice but in the end they refused me. I think because I’m a traveller, they said no.”
But he hopes producers will reconsider after watching his new series Bucket List, which will air on new channel TravelXP in the new year.
He explained: “This series I felt like showing them this is what I can do. And the entertainment I brought was unbelievable.”
Paddy says he is riding high after being put in remission.
And he is enjoying helping other men in the travelling community cope with the disease.
The star, who still has steroid medication and check-ups, said: “I’m so proud. Do you know how many travelling men say, ‘Paddy Doherty I watched you on the morning breakfast show and I went and got myself tested.’ I swear on my life I went to the pub last night and this lad I know said, ‘I’ve got what you had, prostate cancer.’
“We had such a good chat, and I took a lot of worry from him.”
Paddy has spoken candidly about how the pain of going for a wee while suffering symptoms of the illness left him in tears.
He told how he ignored the pain for months until he started passing blood and went for tests that confirmed the disease.
Eventually the pain became so bad he considered suicide twice. When steroid treatment didn’t work, he had surgery at Manchester Royal Infirmary to remove his prostate and fix the blood loss issue.
With the ordeal behind him today, and showing the humour that won him legions of fans, he joked: “When I had my first wee after I was well I couldn’t believe I was pain free. I was going to take a video and call it Free Willy.
“Those dark times are a long way in the past. I should have been dead a lot of times. I really believe God led me back from something. I’ve been badly smashed up and a million bad times have happened. Thank God I’m here now. Life can only get better.
“Money can’t buy you health. I’ve won the lottery. What money can repair is not a problem but if it’s something money can’t repair, you got a problem.”
He credits his own loving family – many of whom live on the same caravan site – for supporting him and revealed their delight when he was put in remission.
“They all couldn’t stop kissing me and hugging me. My grandchildren are my whole world. Knowing I would have longer with them meant everything. I never knew if I’d see them grow up and it was horrendous.
“Without my wife I’m not a man, I’m nobody. The air I breathe is my wife. No matter who or what I am she keeps my feet on the ground. I’m no good without her and she’s no good without me.”
- Dan and Paddy’s Bucket List starts on channel TravelXP from February, co-produced by RKB and Killion Films.