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Former world karate champion steps out of retirement aged 61 in 'fight to save young lives'

PUBLISHED: 10:54 23 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:54 23 April 2019

Geoff Thompson trained in Barking before the 10K Karate Clash. Picture: GEOFF THOMPSON

Geoff Thompson trained in Barking before the 10K Karate Clash. Picture: GEOFF THOMPSON

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A five times former world karate champion has come out of retirement at the age of 61 to 'fight to save young lives'.

Geoff Thompson during his heyday at the World Games. Picture GEOFF THOMPSONGeoff Thompson during his heyday at the World Games. Picture GEOFF THOMPSON

Geoff Thompson, chair of governors at the University of East London (UEL), competed in the '10k Karate Clash' – hailed as the richest prize in traditional karate – in Limehouse on Easter Sunday.

Mr Thompson said: “It was a massive day and coming back after 35 years was certainly evidenced by five generations of karate being present.

“It was good to see so many people come to see my return to see whether a 61 year old can even contemplate competing with other generations.

“I still consider loss of life on the streets as unacceptable, and this is my way of answering the issue. It was well worth my training for the past eight weeks and as regards the social issues, everything I wished to highlight has proved to be worthwhile.”

Geoff Thompson during one of his medal-winning events. Picture: GEOFF THOMPSONGeoff Thompson during one of his medal-winning events. Picture: GEOFF THOMPSON

Mr Thompson explained how the crisis on the streets was the reason for his return to competitive combat.

In 2018, the Met investigated 135 homicides, 40 per cent of whom were men under the age of 30.

The deaths were concentrated in the 15-24 age group, something which has caused the karate legend great anguish.

The competition pitted 32 men in a winner-takes-all series of clashes under World Karate Federation rules. The competition started in 2002 but stopped for 10 years in 2007.

Geoff Thompson trained in Barking before the 10K Karate Clash. Picture: GEOFF THOMPSONGeoff Thompson trained in Barking before the 10K Karate Clash. Picture: GEOFF THOMPSON

Mr Thompson said: “This is my call to action to the martial arts community. We do face a crisis.

“If I was asking the martial arts community [for anything], it would be to give back two hours. If we all did that, I think we could provide massive positivity of human spirit.

“Why can't we go back to dominating the world in our respective combat sports?”

The project was a family affair with his wife Janice Argyle Thompson, who is also a former world karate champion, coaching her husband.

She has set up a Total Giving page, which pledges that all the money raised will be used for the university's social coaches leadership programme.

Anyone who wishes to sponsor Mr Thompson can do so at Youth Charter Donations.

The event is at the TROXY, in Commercial Road, Limehouse.

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