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Odds beater Nick Sanderson defies disability to challenge for kickboxing world crown
HIGH-STACKED odds of debilitating disability have been jettisoned by York’s Nick Sanderson to grapple with being king of the world.
The 26-year-old mixed martial arts ace, who has only just been crowned British champion, is competing at the week-long International Sport Kickboxing Association World Championships in Cyprus where he aims to continue snubbing his gloved thumbs at adversity.
Since birth Sanderson has been battling against a condition that has eroded his powers of hearing. He told The Press that presently his sense of hearing is now down to between 30 to 40 per cent of the norm.
So when he is in the thick of caged combat he is unable to hear any instructions from his corner, especially amid the din of the crowd.
But that has not stopped the former drama and art student from plunging headlong into the unforgiving world of mixed martial arts, all the while defying adversity.
Sanderson shrugged off his disability to initially shine on the York circuit, where his committed, all-action style ensured his status as one of the star attractions on both the Cage Confrontation and Ring Series shows over the past two years.
His progress enabled to him graduate to regional titles and then earlier this month to the British welterweight success.
That triumph in Leeds was Sanderson’s explicit target when he ended his pizza-chomping days two years ago to devote his time to mixed martial arts at the United Masters gym in Layerthorpe run by Gaz Watkinson and Tony Dias.
But now he has battled through to the world stage, where he was hoping for yet more success in Cyprus ahead of his return next week.
Said Heworth-based Sanderson: “When I started going to the gym the first thing was to get some fitness back.
“I didn’t have a job at the time and I was just sat in front of the TV stuffing pizza in my face.
“I had always been interested in martial arts, not to compete, but I thought I’d go to the gym for the obvious health benefits.”
When training developed and Sanderson displayed a talent, his objectives changed, especially when he realised how much of an adrenaline rush he got from competing.
“When I was at college I studied arts and drama as I liked being at the heart of things. I liked the attention and that’s what I get when I am fighting,”
“I always get nervous before a fight, but in a good way. It keeps me on my toes and it makes me want to enjoy my life more, despite the hearing problem.”
The British welterweight champion added how he was training in an environment where he expected no special favours, adding: “The people I work with respect what I have achieved. I set out to win a British title and I have accomplished that.”
His trainer Watkinson said whatever happened in Cyprus over the next few days, Sanderson, who has earned backing from Herbalife, had done more than just win titles.
“Nick is just such a great example of what you can do when you put your mind to it,” said Watkinson.
“He’s a great kid. He’s an ambassador for the sport in overcoming his disability and is a key member of the gym.”
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