An award-winning international model whose chiseled features and confident boast have made him a global sex symbol has spoken openly of his trust-shattering battle against erectile dysfunction.
Champ Imi had just turned 22 and had great success modeling for major brands in Japan, Thailand and Italy when he broke up with the woman he loved – leaving him heartbroken and making sex seemingly impossible.
Because when the 28-year-old champ from Manchester decided to move on and get acquainted with another woman, he was unable to perform.
He said, “I’ve worked a lot where I’ve shown my muscles. I was supposed to be this character in the style of a god of war who was mighty and strong.
“But when it came to sex, I just couldn’t do it. I thought,“ Oh my god, what happened to me? ”It was so surreal. I was 100 percent afraid of sex. I was happy to have potential partners too kiss but would apologize so we don’t go home together.
“I realized that I couldn’t have sex, so I avoided it.”
Speaking today (Nov. 19) on International Men’s Day, Champ supports Upjohn, the men’s health forum, and relationship expert Sarah Louise Ryan’s Time to Raise It campaign, which aims to remove the shame and stigma associated with erectile problems, stop in to suffer from the silence.
Recalling how his own erectile problems (EP) started after he and his former fiancé, whom he doesn’t want to name, split up, he said, “It was a really intense relationship.
“We moved to an apartment in east London after three months when I was 21 and she was 19. I proposed when I was 22.”
“She was an up and coming model at the time and I was already established so I helped her with her portfolio. But our relationship started to fall apart when I was traveling the world to work, ”he added.
When their romance broke down, Champ moved in with his aunt, housewife Saida Khan, nearby in mid-2014 before traveling to Pakistan, where he is originally from, for a few months to spend time with his family while his heartache healed.
He returned to London later that year, immediately jumped back into the party scene and began meeting a woman from Birmingham whom he would visit regularly.
Although he developed strong feelings for her to his horror, he couldn’t perform when they tried to make love.
He said, “That had never happened before. I didn’t think this could happen to anyone my age. I was in my prime when I was 22 and attributed it to stress.
“I apologized to her. She knew I went through a breakup, but I don’t know if she thought it had something to do with it. “
“We were together for about four months and every time we started to get intimate the same thing happened. I couldn’t perform, ”he continued.
“I don’t think we had proper sexual intercourse all the time because of my erectile problems.”
Although he was very young and EP usually affects men over 40 – usually caused by stress, fatigue, anxiety, or too much alcohol – it can happen to men of all ages, according to the NHS.
A survey by the Men’s Health Forum of 5,000 men found that 25 percent of participants had EP – even though they were under 35.
It was also found that an estimated five million men in the UK experience EP, which may be linked to underlying health problems such as diabetes, but nearly a third – 27 percent – have never talked about it.
Champ, who believes the stress caused by his heartache triggered his own EP, said he had become increasingly depressed and worried about his sexual performance but was too embarrassed to tell anyone.
He said, “It was a terrible feeling. It’s one of the worst things you can imagine. You’re supposed to take advantage of your youth, but your manhood says no to you.
“It was terrible to see a woman’s face change when she realized I couldn’t perform.
“Most of the women I dated were very nice and said, ‘No, don’t worry. It happens.'”
He went on. “But there were times when I could find that they didn’t mean it, which made me feel a lot worse.
“It was also very awkward when I met her again, and it’s not a pleasant situation to be here.”
When Champ finally knew he needed to speak to someone for reasons of mental health, he tried bringing up the subject of EP with his friends.
He said, “I was pretending to be another friend of mine who was having these problems.”
But circling the topic didn’t help and eventually he told his friend the truth during a drunken night in 2015 – hoping he would have forgotten the conversation by morning.
He said, “I spoke freely because I knew he wouldn’t remember anything since he’d been drinking.”
“But I was amazed when he was really honest with me and told me his own problems with EP,” said Champ. “After that, I spoke to him again when he was sober and feeling so much more comfortable because I knew it wasn’t just me who this happened to.”
And once Champ started to relax, his problems with intimacy disappeared.
He said, “It was another six months or so before I realized my EP could have been because my previous relationship had broken my heart.”
Now Champ enjoys a successful relationship with a friend who would prefer to remain anonymous and is blown high again.
Named the Orion Star Award for Male Model of the Year 2020, he has a healthy work-life balance and a great sex life.
He said, “If I have sex now, it’s okay. I have prepared myself for it and accept that there is nothing wrong with me in any way.”
“Now I want other men with EP to come forward. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or get help. It’s a very natural thing and there is a solution to it. Don’t discuss this with yourself, but with your doctor or at least a friend and talk about it, ”he said.
“It’s not a shame and I know I wouldn’t have felt so bad if I’d been more open and honest with my own EP.”
“So speak and be true to yourself.”
Further information on EP can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/erection-problems-erectile-dysfunction/