Community Focus: James Houston

“My name is James and I am fifteen years old, and I have been kickboxing since I was ten.

I am a member of the Mack Marauders and I am a Red Brown belt.

Kickboxing is a passion that I truly love. It is all I think about and all I want to do, I would train all day long if I could!

I find reading and writing hard and I struggle with maths, concentrating is very difficult for me. I like school but the work is difficult and frustrating.

When I kickbox I find that everything comes naturally and I feel like myself and at home. I feel comfortable in the environment and it’s when I feel like I really come alive. My life would be empty and boring if I could not train and compete. I don’t know what I would do with myself.

The stronger I have become the more confident I feel about other parts of my life. I can concentrate better at school. I am fitter and healthier and strong. Kick boxing makes me feel strong.

Andrew Hennessey is my coach and I want to be like him. I want to follow what he has done. He works really hard with me and has taught me a lot of things. He always supports me when I am training and fighting and he is always in my corner.

Mack Marauders is the greatest club on earth! There are so many nice people there who all have different reasons why they are there. Everybody always supports everyone else from grading to fighting.

I want to be a champion and I know with MACK Marauders it’s possible.” – James Houston

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“Our son James is 15 years old. He was born with a condition called Dyspraxia which was diagnosed when he was four years old.

Dyspraxia affects the motor skills. It also effects the way the signals are sent through the brain, it is sometimes called the wrong draw syndrome, as a skill can be learnt stored and recalled, or it can be learnt never stored and never recalled, or it can be stored but just in the wrong place making recall very difficult (if not impossible). James is a happy, popular boy but his learning difficulties can prove frustrating and challenging for himself.

When James was 10, knowing that he had only another year until he started secondary school we decided to enrol him in kickboxing classes. These classes were aimed at providing him with confidence. The lessons provided James with confidence but also with a burning passion which has seen him travel the world. The decision for James to start kickboxing was one of the best we have ever made seeing the enjoyment it has given to our son.

James is a member of MACK Marauders which is part of the ICO. His coach is Andrew Hennessey. When James first started Kickboxing he would go on a Monday night where he would learn technique. Gradually this increased to a Wednesday, then a Saturday and as he started to compete he then began sparring classes on a Sunday. Now he trains six days a week. The training that MACK provides is second to none as they adapt their teaching to suit his disability.

A few years after James started learning kickboxing we took him along to watch the ICO British Open. I can remember our son watching with wonder and turning to me and telling me this was what he wanted to do. He wanted to be good enough to fight at international level. Andrew Hennessey has a fantastic attitude, an attitude that rewards commitment irrespective of level of ability. If you want to fight then he will help you, anyone can fight.

When James was 14 he felt ready and able to have his first fight. It was a demonstration fight at the BLCC Burton. His opponent was a young boy who was part of the England squad this was when James’ passion and ambition ignited; he wanted to do that, fight for England. Andrew listened to him and has been unfailingly supportive ever since.

James continued on to have two more demonstration fights at BLCC Burton. In July of 2014 James went on to compete in his first open in Wales and came 3rd. Andrew seeing and recognising in James his passion and ambition encouraged and supported James to continue.

Over the last year Andrew has taken James to fight in Germany where he came 3rd, in Holland where he came 2nd and again in Wales where he came 2nd. Then amazingly the very same young boy who watched the British Open many years ago competed in it himself this year and came 3rd.

Andrew has time and time again in the last 18 month shown his commitment and time to James in helping him realise his ambition.

In January James also started on the road to becoming a member of the England squad going to squad training every month. Once again this would not have been possible without Andrew making it happen. We were delighted when James was selected to become part of the England Squad and will be competing in the World Championships in Stuttgart in October. He also goes to compete in France in September.

Although competing is important to James, he has continued to persue his belts and James is now a Red Brown belt. James is keen to continue his belts and also learn about other disciplines such as Sanda in his pursuit of becoming a more well-rounded competitor.

Andrew Hennessey took on a small boy of 10 and taught, encouraged, trained, supported and mentored him to the fighter he is today. Andrew has no idea of the difference he has made to James’ life. James has an exciting wonderful future ahead of him because of Andrew and kickboxing, opportunities that he would never have had otherwise. I will never be able to thank Andrew enough and will always be indebted to him for the time, energy and personal cost that he has put into James. It is because of the quality of teaching and training James receives at MACK Marauders that he is fighting at the level he is today. Andrew is invested in our son’s future and I know that if Andrew can make it happen, then it will happen.

James wants to go professional and then run his own club as part of the MACK Marauders family. He walks through life with a confidence and self awareness that is unbeatable.

How many 15 year olds know exactly what they want to do and be? And this is simply down to the guidance and support of the MACK Marauders and the ICO. Andrew is a great mentor to our son and James respects him and looks up to him.

Even James school has noticed a vast improvement in James concentration and improvement in his school work.

James wouldn’t be the boy he is today without MACK Marauders, Andrew Hennessey and kickboxing.

I thank you Andrew from the bottom of my heart.” – Jenny Houston (proud mum)


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David Jenkins

Posted by David Jenkins

Secretary and Founding Member of the British Kickboxing Council and the brains behind FightTime, David also contributes to the GiveMeSport website.


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