Grand slam at gym to help Wigan Athletic fan after stroke
A Wigan gym owner took on an extraordinary physical challenge to help a popular Latics fan stricken by a devastating stroke.
Royce Banks, who runs Royce’s Gym in Ince, tackled a marathon "slam ball" ordeal to help Wigan Athletic supporter Ian Carter.
Ian had started going to the health and fitness venue on Manchester Road and became a popular regular as he shed several stone.
However, his life then took a dramatic turn when he collapsed watching Latics play Rotherham United in September 2018 and ended up spending months in hospital.
He is now reliant on a wheelchair to get around and is also being cared for by his mum, who also has to look after Ian’s severely-disabled sister.
Seeing the family’s plight friend and gym-goer David Crompton hit on the idea of doing an event at Royce’s to help.
The fund-raisers settled on a challenge based on the "slam ball", where a medicine ball weighing as much as 20kg is raised over the head and then sent crashing down to the floor.
Gym owner Royce decided he would do the draining exercise an incredible 128 times as that is now double his own age.
There was also a celebrity endorsement as local boxing champion Martin Murray turned up to support the event on Saturday morning, while former Wigan RL star Shaun Edwards contributed as his dad Jackie visits the gym.
David, 57, said: “I got to know Ian through the gym. He’s an out-and-out football supporter and I’m a rugby league man, so we had a bit of banter.
“He left the gym for a bit for personal reasons and I was away so didn’t see him, but when I came back I found out he had had the stroke. He said it was the shock of seeing them winning that caused it!
“His mum is nearly 80 and taking care of him and his sister. She’s stressed as any parent would be with her two children in that situation.
“It’s a terrible story. I know there are many people even worse off but it’s remarkably sad to see a lad who is 47 so reliant on his mother.
“The stroke has completely changed Ian’s life. I think he’s doing incredibly well but I want to keep encouraging him and keep him motivated.
“He’s got an electric wheelchair now and can get out and about, so that’s good.”
Ian has been watching Latics for more than 30 years and says his ambition is one day to be able to return to travelling the country to see them play home and away.
Ian and David are still using humour and their love of rival sports to brighten up dark days along the difficult road to recovery, with David gently ribbing Ian that he would recover much more quickly and suffer less stress if he went to watch the Warriors play instead of Paul Cook’s side.
Gym members all paid a donation after watching Royce, who is also known for his prowess on a rowing machine, take on the slam ball challenge.
David is hoping the fund-raising morning will bring in more than £300 to assist Ian and his family.