A CHAMPION fighter is backing a martial arts club to turn young lives around after he found success at the same place.
Blackpool boxer Matty Askin, 23, began his career as a youngster at Zen Martial Arts on Hornby Road, Blackpool.
The cruiserweight, who admits to hanging out on the streets before discovering boxing, says the strict fitness regime helped him to become a top-class athlete.
He said: “I started at the club when I was a kid and I really enjoyed it because at the time we were all on the streets.
“It’s a brilliant place for kids to be doing something like this and it’s been shown that when they do get involved with this kind of sport the crime rate comes down. I’m glad I can support them and keep them going because it helped to focus me.”
Mr Askin, who is promoted by the former world champion boxer Ricky Hatton, has not lost a fight since turning professional and his titles include Central Area Cruiser weight Champion.
Zen Martial Arts, run by Patrick Perry, appealed to the boxer to help them raise funds and keep the resort’s children from causing trouble and stay in school.
Mr Askin now intends to help his former club by attending a fund-raising night at Blackpool’s Central Club on Kent Road on Friday, November 2, from 7pm.
He added: “I always had a lot of energy and was getting into trouble so I went to the club for a long time.
“Patrick also helped my brother to become a world champion kick boxer and if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be in the career I am today.
Mr Perry, 36, added: “We teach the kids a lot about respect here and we want to keep that message going because I’ve been doing this for 15 years.
“Matty wants to help us and I’m very grateful because the kids can learn from him.
“I have around 90 young people here and they get taught a lot about respect and it keeps them off the streets.
“There are other lessons they can get out of this like concentration and what to eat and how to focus in school.
“They also get to meet people and learn different skills.”
The club will hire a ring during the evening of fund-raising to showcase the benefits of their skills during the evening. It has also invited members of martial arts clubs across Lancashire to join them on the night.
Kenny Walker, 27, is an instructor at the Hornby Road club and takes his two sons along to sessions.
He says he has seen their attitudes improve since they joined the club and it has helped them at school.
Mr Walker added: “This is a club which focuses on training and friendship.
“We have had a few fiery characters training with us and all we try and do is calm them down.
“It’s good to know we are helping the kids and we get a lot of satisfaction out of it. We get to know the kids because we’ve had incidents when they’ve been bullied at school or had trouble at home and they’ve told us about it rather than their parents.”
For more information about fundraising call 07814 452098.