But against this advice, we decided to take Leon along to a local martial art class when he was six years old. The school were very helpful and understanding. Leon started the Traditional Korean martial art of Kuk Sool Won and obtained his first promotion to yellow belt just after his seventh birthday. He practised this art initially for a year and a half, but found the mental learning too intense and we decided to take him out of the sport because Leon wanted to try a new challenge with football. But by eight and a half, he decided that his foot balling urge was over and martial art was more challenging.
Now at the age of eleven he is a brown belt and starts training to become a black belt in September . He is also a European Gold medal winner for his age group and UK Silver medallist in four events. His ambitions within Kuk Sool Won is limitless and has joked with us saying that his goal is to become a Master at the age of 35, and that students could then call him Master Leon.
As his parents, we are extremely proud of our son - as someone who may inspire the young people who have suffered this terrible disease and with hard work and determination and never mentally or physically giving up, that you can achieve.
Leon’s martial arts instructor Rob Holmes, 4th Dan WKSA, says: ‘I am very proud of all of Leon’s achievements since coming to us. He has never complained about anything and always strives to make himself better at what he has been taught, despite the difficulties he faces, he gets on with it. This is a great, and rare, quality to find in someone so young and I’m sure it will set him in good stead for the future. I am looking forward to Leon achieving his black belt rank and pushing his talent even further.’
Claire and Mike Stanbridge