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Kilburn fighter comes out of retirement to kick up a storm

PUBLISHED: 18:04 14 December 2011

Ricky Edwards

Ricky Edwards

Archant

It’s fair to say that Kilburn kung fu star Ricky Edwards’ astonishing comeback reads rather like the script from a martial arts movie.

Promising youngster disappears from the scene, then returns years later to pass on his experience to a new generation, finally discovers that his own passion for the sport remains undimmed and unexpectedly wins a trophy.

In a nutshell, that is the career of Edwards – who gave up martial arts almost two decades ago but has just been crowned grand champion of his Cimac Superleague division at the age of 45.

He also represented Great Britain at this summer’s World Championships in Germany, where he lost in the quarter-finals, and is now in the process of setting up a kung fu team to compete around the country next year.

“Most of the fighters from my day have retired and they’re coaches now,” Edwards admitted. “There have been a few moments over the last year when I’ve bumped into people who were amazed to see me.

“But I’ve also made a lot of good friends and at my age it’s great to have the opportunity to represent England. I’ve definitely been bitten by the bug again and I feel like a 20-year-old!”

Edwards, who grew up in Brent and attended South Kilburn High School, played National League basketball for Crystal Palace and only developed an interest in martial arts in his late teens.

Joining Kilburn’s Lau Gar club and training at Carlton Centre, Granville Road, he reached intermediate level (green sash) in kung fu and also took up kick-boxing.

But the birth of his first child Jessica 17 years ago prompted Edwards to call time on his martial arts career – yet, ironically, family commitments also brought him back to the sport in 2010.

“I gave up when my daughter was born because I just didn’t have the time or the enthusiasm any more,” Edwards explained. “I went back to playing a bit of basketball instead.

“But my son, Lewis, is the cheekiest lad in the whole world and I felt he needed to learn to fight because he’s probably going to get into trouble later in life!

“So I took him along to a kung fu lesson at Charteris Leisure Centre – the first lesson I’d been to for over 15 years and I found I was very rusty. My hips don’t work like they used to!

“There are certain kicks I used to be able to do with ease, but my fitness isn’t anything like the youngsters who can run all day. I got back into it, though, and decided I’d give the league a go.

“I didn’t expect to win the league. If I’d come third I’d have been quite happy, but I amassed enough points to win it and obviously I’m pleased about that.”

Edwards won the UK Open event in Berkshire, as well as taking second place in the British Championship, and failed to finish in the top three just once as he ended the Superleague 13 points clear of his closest rival.

Now he is eagerly looking forward to the 2012 season and establishing a martial arts team that will be known as Lionhearts – which is more than a nod towards his historical namesake, King Richard I.

“The team’s going to be called Lionhearts because it’s more important to have the will to fight than just the skills to survive on the mat,” Edwards added. “We can teach you those.

“Next year we’re going to be entering a few more competitions and we could be fighting two or three times a month. We’re looking for people of all ages and abilities to join us and win some trophies.”

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Lionhearts should call 07952 050 737 or send an email to redwards1905@hotmail.co.uk


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