Carl Fogarty and Jamie Whitham

Carl Fogarty MBE chats to Karen Shaw

by Karen Shaw

Strictly No Dancing for Foggy

Superbike champion, ‘King of the Jungle,’ and now 50 years old, Carl Fogarty MBE talks to Karen Shaw about bike racing, danger, family, friendship, fans… and those reality shows!

The phone continues to ring out. No answer. I try again, to no avail. But after researching World superbike champion Carl Fogarty prior to the interview it suddenly hit me, Carl had been celebrating his 50th birthday at his lavish home near Blackburn the night before. The phone continues to ring out…still no answer.

Better leave him to recuperate…

Fully recovered the following day, Carl manages to pick up the phone. He sounds rather chipper. “I’ve had a good night’s sleep,” he says. “I had cryosurgery yesterday. It was very cold. It’s supposed to have plenty of health benefits, but I decided to try it out because it was free!”

Carl’s definitely a northerner. Born in Blackburn, this world record-breaking biking champion has won numerous races and was made an MBE in 1998. More recently he won was crowned King of the Jungle in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! How did Carl feel when he became jungle royalty?

“Oh, wow, it was just amazing. It really was. I mean the comparison is very, very close in some ways. It’s quite a cool title! ‘King of the Jungle.’ I loved it; it was such a beautiful part of the world to be in.

“There were millions of people watching it every night –I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel. For the British public to make you their favourite was just tremendous. I’ve won bike races for the British public for years. I felt that it was my responsibility. I felt the responsibility to win, and I thought that if I didn’t win I’d be letting the British people down! It’s almost like me paying them back in some way. For them to make me the winner, it makes me feel so special.

“People did start to think of me as somebody who was really selfish, a bit arrogant – which I was, really, and that attitude helped me to win it in a lot of ways, you know. But when I was on the racetrack, it wasn’t really me. Living in the jungle enabled people seeing me as the person I am; a really down-to-earth guy.

“It was hard, mentally, very, very hard. But I just loved it. I kept thinking ‘You know what, this is not forever, and people starve to death all around the world and I’m getting rice and beans every day and should get on with it.’

“When I got out, I had a bacon sandwich in one hand and a piece of steak in the other and was washing them down with a cup of tea, quickly followed by champagne and a chocolate brandy. I was advised to ‘slow down’ and not eat so much straight away as there would be a chance I’d be ill due to my restricted diet in the jungle. But I was so hungry, I just carried on and after a couple of hours I was really poorly!”

Affectionately known as Foggy, Carl beat 11 other celebrities, including former X Factor contestant and bookies’ favourite for the title Jake Quickenden. These two struck up a great friendship, many would say bromance and the bromance then turned into romance when Foggy introduced Jake to his daughter Danielle. The pair have since been inseparable. “They’re in love, it would appear!” laughs Foggy. “I think they’re looking to buy a house together.”

Foggy is a charismatic kind of chap. This became evident in the jungle when he immediately struck up a friendship with ex-footballer Jimmy Bullard and then with Jake, but Foggy’s best friend of thirty years is fellow racer Jamie Whitham. Despite being a Yorkshire lad, Jamie and Foggy’s friendship began when they first met in the paddock. The pair have toured the country with their ever-popular Givin’ It Gas show for the past three years, and recently performed at Preston Guild Hall providing an evening of live and uncut chat, aptly named Foggy & Whit: The King and I!

“To me,” says Foggy, “friendship is about trust, it’s about having someone you can be honest and loyal with. It’s also important to have someone to be able to have a good laugh with.”

Both lads are competitive racers, so when I asked if they’d ever consider a ‘War of the Roses’ type of race, Lancashire v Yorkshire, he answers: “Well, I’ve got time to fit that in if you want! Lancashire would obviously win because we won the War of Roses, didn’t we?”

Moving swiftly on, I was curious to learn what it takes to be a successful racer, what motivates someone to risk life and limb?

“It’s determination, really, sheer determination. Natural ability counts a lot, but I wasn’t the most naturally talented guy out there. I was just so determined. I’d just look at what I needed to improve on with whatever it was. I’m just determined to be the best and to be number one. I had to learn from watching others beat me in some ways.”

One of Foggy’s memorable defeats was to his dad, George, a panel beater who enjoyed road racing. “My dad was in the first ever race I entered. I shouldn’t have been in the race. It wasn’t really meant for my bike. I came around 12th, and my dad won it!”

When I ask if he’s a better racer than his dad, he answers: “Well, he didn’t win a British championship, so that would suggest that I might’ve been a little bit better!”

His only regret in life is crashing in Australia in 2000, when he was forced into retirement after smashing his arm. Despite him leaving the sport professionally he is still considered to be the most successful World Superbike racer of all time. With over 200 racers having died since 1910, Foggy has ridden a path in life in which death can always be found just around the bend. It’s a well-known fact that his wife Michaela would kiss him and whisper: “Come back to me” before a race.

“I’ve lost a few friends over the years,” he sighs. “When I was younger it almost just seems like ‘water off a duck’s back’. I feel bad saying that, but it’s just accepted that this could happen. I accepted that when I was there. That was it. You could die, but it didn’t bother me or scare me. Although it scares me now, I use to push it. I pushed it hard when I was racing. In some ways I still feel lucky I’m here today.”

He has narrowly escaped death on a few occasions, but remains fearless, admitting that the only thing that used to scare him was losing!

It’s rather ironic that it was an accident in Australia that defeated him, giving him no option but to end his career, yet he returned back to Oz 14 years later and left with the title of ‘King of the Jungle’.

Like Katie Price, he would love to return, but has no further plans to enter any other reality show. Sorry ladies, but fearless Foggy has no intention of busting any moves on Strictly, “There’s no way you’re going to get me in a pink sequCarl Fogarty and Jamie Whithamin top! I can’t do that,” he splutters. I was asked to do Dancing on Ice a few years ago, and I said no.”

After a sweltering three weeks in the Australian jungle, Foggy never faltered in any of the challenges and in his final bush tucker trial he successfully swallowed mealworms, cockroaches, tarantulas, ostrich anus and last but not least he devoured a camel penis. When asked if camel penis tastes better than a black pudding, he practically spits down the phone…

“No… it doesn’t! It tasted really rotten! I’m more of a black pudding man.