A KICKBOXER is dedicating his first major fight to the memory of a hero.
Ryan Surtees will take part in the bout in tribute to his close pal, Royal Marine Commando Tony Evans, from Hendon, who was killed in action while serving his country in Afghanistan.
“He was my best friend,” said the 23-year-old, from Plains Farm.
“I’ve been doing kickboxing for about two-and-a-half years.
“This will be my biggest fight yet, and I just thought it would be nice to fight in Tony’s name.”
Ryan will also be using the bout to raise money for Brothers in Arms.
The project is to build a memorial wall next to Sunderland’s Cenotaph in Burdon Road, bearing the names of servicemen and women from the area killed in active service since 1946.
The campaign has been organised by several families of servicemen and women from Wearside, who have lost loved ones in recent conflicts and training.
Ryan’s bout takes place on the evening of Saturday, April 2, at the Park Hotel, Tynemouth.
He will take on John Malkin at the mixed martial arts event, a “high level fighting competition” going under the banner of Knuckle Force.
Other contests on the bill include Matt “the wrecking machine” Howard against Shaun “the legend” Lomas, and Bill “Dangermouse” Coultas versus Nathan “chicken” Thompson.
Ryan will be backed at the event by a number of fans from Sunderland, including members of Tony’s family and his friends.
Marine Evans lost his life in November 2008, while selflessly providing fire support to colleagues under sustained enemy attack.
The Sunderland 20-year-old and fellow 42 Commando Royal Marine Georgie Sparks, had been on patrol to the north west of Lashkar Gar, in Helmand Province, when they both suffered fatal wounds from a grenade blast.
At the time, commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Stickland, said: “Marine Tony Evans lost his life doing the job he loved, fighting alongside his friends and brothers-in-arms in the tight-knit and tenacious band that is J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines.
“A man of humour, courage and energy, he was a Bootneck (Marine) through and through.
“Respected by his peers, he was the epitome of the Commando; robust in action, loyal in friendship, determined and resolute and always living life to the full.
“We have lost one of the Smiley Boys of 42 Commando Royal Marines, and his comrades are unwavering that his loss will not be in vain.”