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The SANDEE Superstar of the Month Award will be given to one talented young person in the sport of Muay Thai.

SANDEE is looking to support talented Junior Thai Boxers who not only do well in the ring and in competition, but more importantly how well they are doing outside of it, such as school, at home or in their community.

The Superstar of The Month Award will go to boys and girls who train hard but have focus on discipline, respect and understand the importance of having the right attitude and work ethic across all things not just Muay Thai.

SANDEE recognise that along with many other sports, Muay Thai can focus young people in achieving great things inside and outside of the ring and we look to give something back to the grass roots of Muay Thai and support youngsters in their achievements,


Billy and Stephen Collinge - Great Kings Gym Thai Boxing Brothers Billy and Stephen Collinge

This moth the SANDEE Superstar of the month is a tale of two brothers called Billy and Stephen Collinge, from their coach and owner of Great Kings Thai Boxing Gym, Manchester, Tony Forde.


When Billy first joined us at Great Kings he was very very shy, very unsteady on his feet and was easily brought to tears, but what Billy lacked in coordination and a natural fighting ability, he made up for with a trait he shares with his brother, which is determination.


The first time I met Billy was when his mum arrived at the gym ad asked me to come to the stairs and have a word. I duly went out to the stairs to find Billy lying curled up on the stairs crying and refusing to move because he had an overwhelming fear of heights. Stephen on the other hand was a very different kettle of fish. Where Billy was shy and poorly coordinated Stephen was agile and adept at fighting on the streets. To say discipline was an issue was an understatement, as Stephen was constantly getting into trouble.


The first time I got to meet Stephen was after a fight with my stepson.

From that very first moment I noticed he was far from a bad lad, in point of fact he is a diamond of a lad when you get to know him, but his lack of self-discipline impacted on his behaviour at home and at school in a big way.

His mum was driven to distraction with him, However, notwithstanding he had a fight with the stepson of the Kru from a local Muay Thai gym, Stephen’s mum took her boys to the local gym after an invite from a parent of one of the other Great Kings students. Now both boys’ stories demonstrate what Muay Thai gives to youngsters aside from the ability to fight.


Fast forward almost 18 months and Billy has now participated at 5 inter clubs. He took a bit of a hammering at one event and despite that, he never thought of giving up, even though he was knocked down several times. In another event I had to substitute him for his brother, for safety reasons, as a stronger opponent refused to accept the rules of a non-decision bout.

Billy remained undeterred and has grown within our group as a committed member of the Great Kings gym, whether committed to the banter or the hard training he hasn’t let anybody tell him he can’t enjoy the sport that gives him the confidence that brings him up the stairs each week.

In point of fact we have since moved from that premises and we now go downstairs, but that doesn’t matter, Billy would have still come to train with us anyway. Also, for those that have high stairs JR Gym, that was us holding up the flow on the stairs… and he made it.


Stephen’s story is also a wonderful one. Stephen has accepted the discipline that comes with training at Great Kings and has thrived. His behaviour at home is a complete turnaround to when he started and at school things couldn’t get any better. I recall Stephen’s mum telling me of a parents evening at school, an evening that used to bring her anxiety where Stephen was concerned, that caught her by surprise. After reading the teachers comments and his grades, his mum felt almost compelled to ask whether or not his details had been mixed up with another student’s.


Suffice it to say Stephen has also become quite a character at the gym and as well as becoming a best friend to my stepson, despite their difficult start, he has shown what a good kid he is by becoming a good mate to a boy he beat a couple of times from another gym and who has recently joined the Great Kings fighters team. It is therefore fitting to add to his nomination that he made the finals this year at a UKMF Regional Championship, Celtic Regional Championship and WKA British Open Championship, winning two from three, as a testimony to his refusal to give in to the frustrations of training in a fighting art. He won his first title within two years, but the battle wasn’t with his opponents in the ring, as most would think, it was with himself. Now patience gained from fighting is helping him in other aspects of his young life.


As Stephen’s instructor I couldn’t be prouder when I say that Stephen won this battle to find his better self in the company of all the great kids at Great Kings, kids whose self-discipline and comradeship have made them all champions to me and good friends to many Muay Thai event hosts and organisers, whether belt winners or not, because they have all overcome something to help us achieve the awards and plaudits that we have.

Thanks to Thai Boxing Coach Tony Forde for nominating these two great youngsters and  for giving us this inspring story.


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