DON’T mess with pint-sized hardman Jonathon Vaughan.
At an age when most of his peers are more preoccupied with toys and trains, the six-year-old Bleak Hill Primary School pupil has just become the youngest member of the Interational Sport Kickboxing Association’s national team.
Jonathon has been kickboxing since he was three and trains at the Hughes Shorai in St Helens.
And all his hard work paid off when Jonathon won the Watford Open National Championship to secure his place on the national team.
He has also scooped second place at this year’s British Championships and his recent successes mean he automatically qualifies to represent his country at the 2011 European Championships in Venice, Italy.
Jonathon trains alongside two other St Helens’ pupils, who have also gained automatic places on the England team, Connor Hughes and Adam Roberts, both from Rainhill.
Head coach Dave Hughes said: “We have a fantastic group of young people who work at this club who have worked really hard to get to this point.
“This has shown by the number of students we’ve had selected for the national team. Everyone at the club is really proud of their hard work and dedication.”
Dianne Murphy, the council’s partnership development manager and lead for the elite performer’s Junior Athlete Education programme, added: “All martial arts give children the opportunity to work on basic balance, stretching and body control techniques that are essential for overall athletic development.
“Once the basics of body control have been achieved, it gives children a real advantage when they move into all other sports.”
Because kickboxing remains a minority sport in his country there is little funding available and all three boys must fund their own trips to the Venice championships, raising a staggering £1,200 each.
A spokesman for the club said: “All the members at Hughes Shorai are desperately trying to raise funds for their team mates, but in the current economic climate it is proving very difficult. The club are now asking local businesses if they are able to support these children to raise the funds needed to represent their country.”
Anyone wishing to support the children, or wanting more information about how their children can join the club can contact Dianne Murphy on 01744 671100.