EXCLUSIVE: What Neil Cummins wants the youth to know about the underworld

“These days, kids get caught up in the flashiness of seeing what these so-called gangsters do.”
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Trigger warning: This article features details of suicide that may be triggering for some readers.

A decade ago, Neil ‘The Muscle’ Cummins was the bodyguard to Sydney figure John Ibrahim, and today, he’s walking people down the streets of Kings Cross through his own words.

WATCH BELOW: Introducing Secrets of the Underworld podcast

With a new tell-all podcast series titled Secrets of the Underworld, Neil has been sharing an insightful first-hand account of what life was like running the doors and the streets of Sydney’s party district throughout the 2000s.

Having worked his way from nightclub doorman to personal bodyguard to John, the king of the cross himself, between 2002-2013, Neil hasn’t held back when it comes to recounting the scenes of that time.

“Some things I’m not proud of what I’ve done but at the end of the day that’s what a bodyguard does and that’s what someone does in that kind of world,” Neil exclusively tells New Idea.

“I’ve got no problem with sharing my stories with people… it’s part of my life. I’m not going to hide it.”

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Neil (left) was John’s (right) bodyguard for 11 years. (Credit: Supplied)

With the success of season one, fans can expect a second instalment to come soon, and Neil says it will be even more compelling, with a few overseas underworld figures to come on as guests.

“It’s going to be a lot more exciting with the guests who I’m bringing on because I’m going more in-depth,” he says.

The podcast, hosted by actor Salvatore Coco, covers everything from the nightclub scene to city gang wars, drugs, brawls, shootings and much, much more. There is no suggestion John has any involvement with criminal conduct.

Neil even details his harrowing mental health battle, one that saw him reach the point of attempting suicide after the pressures of his lifestyle proved to be too much.

“There was a lot of built-up pressure from what I was doing and, in the scene, and it was at that time there was a massive gang war,” he explains. “It just put a lot of pressure on me, and I just didn’t know how to cope at the time.”

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Neil’s new podcast explores Sydney’s underworld scene. (Credit: Supplied)

His own experiences are what inspired a new documentary, Was It Worth It, which will be distributed around schools in 2022 for the main purpose of mental health awareness.

“I’ll be interviewing parents who’ve lost their children to suicide or even being killed as they’ve been in a gang,” Neil says.

“And I’ll be going inside the prisons to talk to so-called gangsters or inmates about was it worth it, what they did, and their mental health.”

“Then I’ll be going into the schools to talk to kids who were in gangs, through mental health too and see – some kids find it hard to talk to anybody, so I’ll be going in there to try and open them up a little bit,” he adds.

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Speaking candidly on his own mental health battle, Neil hopes to help others. (Credit: Supplied)

By sharing his own real and gritty experiences, Neil hopes to educate the younger generations on the reality of the underworld, and not the romanticised idea of it.

“These days, kids get caught up in the flashiness of seeing what these so-called gangsters do – the nice cars, the jewellery, expensive clothes – that’s not all that it’s meant to be,” he says.

“That’s not it and that’s what I’m trying to get through to some of these kids when I go to the schools to speak about it.”

Neil has also been working on a reality TV show for next year, which he says has “never, ever been done before”.

If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website.

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