Ian Entwistle thought his professional sports career was over when a bad injury forced him to pack in football aged just 16.
But the 23-year-old has bounced back to become a professional cage fighter and is now ready to take on the world.
The former Hollins High School pupil damaged his leg after signing a professional contract at Rochdale.
"I just twisted when I was playing a game at Rossendale United and that was it.
"I had to have two operations and have fully recovered but it was the end of my football career. I was devastated at the time," said Ian who had played for his school and the Hyndburn town team in midfield and had high hopes of forging a full-time career in football.
He did then turn his back on sport for a time, using some of the money he had to buy Level One nightclub in Accrington, which he made a real go of.
"I was a trainee electrician and I hated it so when the ‘Arcade Bar’, as it was then called, came up for lease, I thought why not?
"I was only 19 and it was a big thing for me but I employed people who knew what they were doing. I kind of stumbled along and picked things up and made a success of it."
But he admitted there were problems along the way as some people tried to take advantage of a teenager owning a nightclub.
"He did get himself into a couple of compromising situations and basically he had to start looking after himself," said coach Jimmy Hey who, along with Ian Longson at East Lancs Predators gym on Gillies Street, have coached Ian to success.
And that led Ian on the road to cage fighting s as he admitted: "I went to a gym about 15 months ago and took a mixed martial arts class and liked it. I have always had sport in me and I decided I wanted to carry on.
"Jimmy saw me, took charge of me and I have trained every night and day ever since. It’s awesome what the coaches at East Lancs Predators have done for me.
"They have really taken me under their wing.
"If someone had said 14 months ago I would be a professional cage fighter I would have been laughing the loudest so I can't quite believe it has happened."
He started having fights at amateur and semi-professional level – he had three wins and one loss as an amateur and five wins and one loss as a semi-pro fighter- but, in such a short space of time, has now decided to take the step up to the big time.
And, thanks to the likes of ultimate cage fighter Michael Bisping, from Clitheroe, who has made a huge name for himself in America and the UK at the sport, and Jordan’s other half, Alex Reid, cage fighting is now big news and can be big money.
Ian’s first professional fight is at Hyndburn Sports Centre on July 31 where it’s already almost sold out.
Like boxing, there are strict rules to adhere to and this is a huge event for the sports centre.
Ian fights at lightweight – 72kg – and will be taking on Anthony Jeffries from Sheffield.
"I hope to make a career out of it and plan to go all the way," said Ian. "Cage fighting, at the moment, is the fastest growing sport in the world.
"Michael Bisping has been to the gym a few times and it’s great to meet him and see what he has done.
"I don’t really know why I took to it so quickly. I suppose it’s like football as it is about co-ordination, keeping fit and being determined and single minded.
"I am not afraid and I have listened to everything the coaches have said. I just love training and fighting.
"My friends think it is great and I used to play in front of crowds playing football so it is great to do it again. They follow me all over. I want to go far."
Coach Jimmy can’t wait for Ian’s showdown as it also marks a transition for the East Lancs Predators gym as Ian is their first homegrown professional fighter.
The gym has become, in a year, one of the leading mixed martial arts clubs in the country boasting a 16 foot cage, a 16 foot boxing ring and a large matted area.
Jimmy said: "This is the real deal for Ian. It will be a test for him and it is a bit of a grudge match as they have met in the past when Anthony beat Ian but it was controversial.
"It's a big step up to turn professional and the money is quite good because of the risk – while it is monitored and sanctioned, there is a risk of a punch in the face or things like that.
"But there is a superb atmosphere for the fights.
"Ian came out to local band NRG singing ‘I got a feeling’ last time and it really builds it all up. NRG are going to sing this time but I don’t think Ian has decided what yet.
"Ian is a bit of a showman and plays to the crowd although we have got rid of some of the cockiness he had when I first started working with him.
"He had a bit of a hard time with the nightclub at first and he needed to start looking after himself.
"He got himself focussed and he is totally dedicated when he is in the ring. It’s quite scarey really. You only have to look at his six-pack to know how hard he works!
"We call him ‘Alex Reid’ but he doesn’t like that. We have, though, transformed him from a party boy to a full warrior."