Banbury teenager scoops gold at martial arts competition

Joe Taylor, coach Gavin Stewart and Liam Parkes, who took gold in the Senior -79.5kg.
Joe Taylor, coach Gavin Stewart and Liam Parkes, who took gold in the Senior -79.5kg.

A 16 year old student from Banbury has shared how he turned his life around through sport.

Joe Taylor, 16, of Causeway, Grimsbury, scooped gold in the Southend open Brazilian Jiu Jitsu championships last month. It is a dramatic turn around for the student, who only two years ago was expelled from Banbury School for truancy and disruptive behaviour.

“I didn’t really enjoy school that much,” said Joe. “I found it difficult to focus. I didn’t ever want to go to college at that age.

“I wanted to finish school and be done with it. I hated sports and I didn’t go to school. When I did I would mess around.”

But things changed for Joe when he joined Meadow Brook College and began learning Thai Boxing with the help of Stuart Davies, head coach at Banbury Martial Arts Centre and director for refereeing at the Mixed Martial Arts association.

“He was just very quiet,” said Mr Davies. “He wouldn’t speak to anyone and he would not look at you. It was not that he was a bad lad, he just didn’t know what do or where to go.”

The centre specialises in helping troubled young people. Over the course of two years of intensive training, in part financed by Banbury Charities, Joe emerged as a confident and talented martial artist, scooping gold in the -80kg category at Southend in May.

Mr Davies added: “He has a natural talent and ability and just picks things up.

“We will keep pushing him. If he wins his next bout in July we will push him to compete for the British title.”

Joe lives on Causeway, Grimsbury and studies sports science at Banbury College. Though his contacts at the club he set to take on an apprenticeship in personal training but he says he still trains every day: “It is hard work, it keeps you fit and I enjoy blowing off steam some times after a long day of college.”

Joe says he is looking to go professionally into the MMA cage fighting league with coaches confident with application he can achieve this by 2018.

Gavin Steward, who coaches Joe in Jiu Jitsu, said: “It is a real testament to how good the sports can be. Gyms like ours can be so good for struggling youths.

“Everyone is really proud of him. To see the difference in him was a really special thing, he has a really bright future ahead of him.”

Banbury Martial Arts Centre is based at Unit 19, Thorpe Place on Thorpe Way industrial estate. Anyone interested in joining can call Stuart Davies on 07886703370.