A NEW martial arts gym came to life yesterday as Team Kaobon Wigan opened its doors for the first time at Eckersley Mill.
Wrestlers and fighters of all ages and abilities descended on the gym, headed by wrestler Mike Grundy, to take part in demonstrations for the public during a successful open day.
In partnership with Wigan and Leigh Wrestling Club, youngsters took to the mat to demonstrate their skills on the lower of the gym’s two floors before MMA stars gave an exhibition on the upper floor.
Looking out at the well-equipped facility, packed with club members and interested members of the public, a proud Grundy said: “We’ve had a lot of help with Wigan and Leigh Wrestling Club to get the facilities ready but it has been a massive project.
“We have two floors with Team Kaobon and some of the best coaches in the UK.
“To set the facility up and covering all the costs was hard but the help we’ve had was unreal.”
Wrestling has a long and proud history in the town, and Grundy is excited to see potential stars of the future in attendance.
The 2010 Commonwealth Games competitor thinks the club’s welcoming atmosphere can contribute to the new gym’s success.
“It’s very family orientated with most of the team members but the ones who don’t come with their families are also really enthusiastic,” he said.
“Wrestling is a rough and tough sport. It’s been going on in Wigan for a while now. It’s very welcoming and everyone is really friendly.
“I think that’s why we do so well as a wrestling club to be honest, we’re so welcoming.
“We have 50-60 kids on the mat at a time but that’s because we welcome them and try to get them on the mat.”
Despite seeing his hard work come to fruition, Grundy isn’t ready to sit back and relax.
Along with training to qualify for this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Grundy is taking the next step to developing the club’s future wrestling talent by trying to raise funds to give them the training opportunity of a lifetime.
Grundy explained: “We have a trip to America next year planned for the summer.
“My coach is American so we’re going to go and see him – he’s organising it from his end and we hope to take 15 kids from here.
“We’re doing bag packs and looking for sponsors to try and take the kids because it’s a life changing experience to get the kids to America and train there and see why they are good at wrestling.”
A fundraising target of £12,000 has been set which they are confident of achieving given the early signs of community spirit surrounding the gym.
But the gym isn’t just focused on youngsters.
As well as welcoming anyone who simply wants to stay fit and healthy, the Team Kaobon aspect of the organisation has big ambitions for the year ahead.
“For the Kaobon side and fighting side of things we want to try and get fighters by the end of the year to compete in every disciple,” added Grundy.
“For wrestling, we’ve just had nine people picked for the northern region squad so we’re doing well there.”