That’s exactly why I wanted to get involved and encourage these lads to show they’ve got so much to offer…” So that’s how Nigel Benn came to be found on at a small gymnasium on an industrial estate in Telford, Shropshire, showing fellow military veterans how to help others defend themselves.
One-time Private Benn, veteran of many a skirmish in Northern Ireland, has been enlisted by British Military Martial Arts, an organisation run by ex- Para, Lee Matthews, to spearhead a project which recruits ex-servicemen and women to be trained as martial arts instructors. When qualified, they are encouraged to open their own fitness academies or gain employment in some of the 60-odd BMMA establishments throughout the UK, teaching kids and adults self-defence.
Matthews, 34, himself eight-times British Kickboxing champion, two-times European and three-times world cup winner and who also served in Ulster and Kosovo, explains… “Basically, military people are all athletes who can be readily trained in sports like Boxing, Karate, Kung-Fu, TaeKwonDo and Jiu-Jitsu – virtually any martial art. The academies are run on military lines – with kit inspections and emphasis on discipline and respect. When jobs are so scarce, it is a good means of employment for ex-service personnel, as this is a burgeoning area. We see Nigel as the ideal ambassador.”
Benn thinks this project is great for ex-service men and women. “So many come out wondering what they can do with themselves. They’ve got so much left in them, but can’t get to grips with civilian life. This gives them something to burn up that energy and use their combat knowledge.” Although we know Nigel Benn as a Boxer, he was also a martial artist in his youth and he was just as good at martial arts too. Benn – a Bruce Lee fan – loves combat sports but took up Boxing in the Army because there was no money in martial arts back then. He chose the Army as he wanted to make something of himself and thought the alternative to the Army, for him, would be prison. The Army gave Benn the determination…the will to win. Nigel Benn will be back with British Military Martial Arts again on Saturday, 12th November, 2011 between 3pm-5pm, at Lee Matthews Black Belt Academy, in association with WMKF. You can book your place on a seminar with him at a cost of £39 for participants and £20 for spectators. Spaces will be limited, so please telephone the academy headquarters as soon as possible on 01952 587774 to book your place to see ‘The Dark Destroyer’ in action…