ENGLISH bamtamweight boxing champion Martin Ward made an inspirational visit to his old school.
Just days after winning the title, the 24-year-old called in at West Rainton Primary to show off his belt.
“It’s brought back some good memories from when I was here. It’s good to be back.”
He added: “I used to be on the football team here. We used to have a pretty good team.
“I’m pretty sure if I’d stuck at that, it would have been the easier way to go, rather than boxing.
“It’s great for the kids to see me come in when I’ve won something. It will hopefully encourage them to work a little harder.”
The school runs a non-contact boxing club on Wednesday lunchtimes, which was not there when Martin left in 1999.
“I think it’s fantastic to see kids starting to do a bit of boxing in the school,” he said.
“It’s only been introduced within in the last few years, but it’s a brilliant idea.
“It’s a good sport for teaching kids discipline.”
PE co-ordinator Adam McDonough said: “All of us at West Rainton Primary School would like to congratulate Martin and wish him even more success in the future.”
He added: “It’s great that the children in our village can identify with such a successful sportsperson like Martin.
“He was born here, went to school here and is very proud of where he comes from.
“His willingness to visit the children in the school and share his success can help the children realise that they can achieve their dreams, no matter where they come from, if they have the desire and commitment to succeed.”
The school’s boxing club attracts more than 20 children each week.
It allows them to keep fit, by running through a number of drills, as well as developing their technical skills on punch bags.
Martin is not the only talented boxer to come from the County Durham school, with his 18-year-old brother Tommy, tipped to make an impact on the boxing scene.
Another former pupil, Martin Dickinson, left the school two years ago and is currently fighting for a European schoolboy title in Russia, with a bronze medal already secured.
Martin Ward won his title by beating Jason “Too Smooth” Booth, from Nottingham, in 10 bruising rounds at Hartlepool Borough Hall last week.
“I’ve been waiting for a long time, since I turned professional three years ago, to get a title fight, so it’s a dream come true to win it,” he said.
Martin is now looking to build quickly on his recent success by securing a British title fight.