A professional fighter from Accrington will open a martial arts ‘school of excellence’ in the town next week.
Bantamweight fighter Ian Entwistle has fought for the Ultimate Fighting Championship in America, New Zealand and Thailand, winning nine out of 11 fights, his last netting him $70,000.
The 28-year-old is ranked one of the top 20 bantamweights in the world and has spent the last two years living and training in Thailand.
But now he is bringing his skills back home to develop a state-of-the art gym.
He said: “It’s always been a dream of mine and after training at gyms in America and at the biggest gym in Asia, ‘Phuket Top Team’, I know how things should be.”
‘England Top Team’, next to Furnimax, where the old Empire Bingo Club used to be, on Blackburn Road, will include altitude training equipment, blood testing kits and a healthy eating restaurant.
Martial arts on offer will include boxing, jiu-jitsu and cage fighting. It will be open to all levels and will include a children’s academy based on the football ‘School of Excellence’ format.
The most talented children will train for free and work with professionals including American all-state wrestler Eric Uresk and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Flavio Carvalho.
Ian, who was a pupil at Hollins High School, said: “I will then offer the best 16 to 19 year-olds the chance to train as professional fighters on a trainee’s salary.”
Describing how he got into martial arts, Ian said: “I wanted to be a footballer first but wasn’t good enough, then when I was 19 I stumbled across a weights gym and just excelled at martial arts.
"I realised then I could make a very good life for myself and went from amateur to professional level in one year.”
He added: “I was never going to be a brain surgeon and I think the gym will just give people in Accrington another option.”
The gym will open on Monday, November 9 with an opening event planned for Saturday, November 7 featuring Accrington’s best fighting talents, kickboxer Raz Boast, and Mark Hill, making his professional debut.
Boxing, kickboxing and cage fighting will take place from 7pm on the night. Tickets are £25 to £30 from 07704 510791.