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Last Updated: Monday, 17 November, 2003, 13:07 GMT
Bullying forges karate champion
Karate champion Jamie Foster
Jamie's parents said bullies had made him lose confidence
A schoolboy who turned to karate in order to defend himself against bullies has won two gold medals in the world championships.

Jamie Foster, 16, from Malpas in Newport, fell victim to school bullies as a child and his parents recall him returning home every day in tears.

"I was bullied at primary school and had to learn how to defend myself so my dad took me to karate lessons. But he never realised how good I would be," he said.

Having begun the martial arts aged 10, he now holds a brown and black belt for wado-ryu karate and won the individual junior categories at the world championships in the Meadowbank stadium in Edinburgh, and has been made a first dan - the first rung of the black belt expertise ladder.

Talking about how the sport turned around his life, Jamie added: "Kids used to push me around and taunt me but karate lessons changed all that.

"Jamie had a hard time of it at school and that really motivated him to be the best - which he is
Karate instructor Everton Smith
"They gave me confidence and self-esteem so the bullies just left me alone."

Jamie's instructor 41-year-old Everton Smith - a former European champion - says he cannot believe the change in his pupil since he learned to take on the playground bullies.

"When Jamie first came to me he was timid and scared," he said.

"But now he's a shining example to other kids going through the same situation. He's really showing those bullies by doing better than them.

"Jamie had a hard time of it at school and that really motivated him to be the best - which he is.

Karate champion Jamie Foster
Jamie arrived home with two more medals for his collection

"Other kids can't believe Jamie used to be a victim of bullies when they see how good he is at karate.

"If they are being bullied themselves they look at him at see a light at the end of the tunnel."

His parents Laurence and Alison said they were incredibly proud of their son and never thought he would turn out to be quite so talented.

"He never used to have any confidence and would come from school crying every night.

"So one day Laurence said let's give him some karate lessons and see if that helps. I'm really pleased we did."

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