South Shields kickboxer Zak Thorpe wins national title at age of 11
Zak Thorpe, 11, is now the proud owner of the WUMA (World United Martial Arts Federations) English Under 35kg kickboxing belt after beating opponent Rio Howden, from York.
The schoolboys showcased their skills in the ring in a five-round bout held in Seaham earlier this month.
It is the first time the Whitburn C of E Academy school pupil, who attends Kuei Ling Kickboxing Academy in South Shields, has competed for a title belt.
Coach Steve East said: “Zak is such a committed member of our academy and the win is well deserved.
“He works extremely hard and is dedicated to the sport and if he continues as he is, I’m sure this will be the first of many title wins for him.”
Zak, from Blagdon Avenue, South Shields, started kickboxing at the age of five when he was one of the first youngsters to join the club after they launched their ‘Little Dragons’ sessions.
He is now an active member of the junior academy and also supports in the teaching of the new generation of Little Dragons.
Zak, who is a brown and white belt, trains at the academy, based in Maxwell Street, four times a week and is tipped to reach his black belt by the end of the year.
Steve added: “He has been with the club since the age of five and regularly trains four times a week - at least.
“He is a great kid and has great support from his parents, Sharon and Christopher, and his school.
“To compete for a title belt, the fight has to be sanctioned by the governing body and that Zak was at a level that was worthy of a title.
“We knew from a young age that Zak had something special. He has the makings of an adult champion.”
Kuei Ling provides sessions from the age of four.
It also runs a women’s only class on Mondays at 7pm, with world champion kickboxer Laura Burnett.
For details on session times and private classes, visit Kuei-Ling Martial Arts on Facebook or call 07946 389945.