A SUCCESSFUL young kickboxer has set his sights on more titles after making the transition to mixed martial arts (MMA).

Callum Beeckmans, of Prudhoe, burst on to the kickboxing scene in 2016, and enjoyed a trophy laden two years after taking to the sport “like a duck to water.”

Among his achievements, the teenager qualified for the World Unified Kickboxing Championships after numerous victories at events across the country.

But early last year, the now 15-year-old got involved with MMA, which challenges participants to use various martial arts techniques, including judo and karate, as well as wrestling and boxing.

He teamed up with retired MMA star Ian Freeman, and has spent many hours working at his specialist MMA school in Stanley, County Durham.

“Callum is doing very well,” said his dad Mark. “He got the opportunity to try MMA and he just absolutely loves it.

“Ian has been a great support. He believes in Callum’s ability, and we are grateful to benefit from the experience of someone with such standing in the sport.”

Callum’s extensive training now includes two trips to France each year, and it has paid off.

Mark said his son, who is a pupil at Prudhoe High School, had already defeated a British champion kickboxer in an MMA fight.

But he added: “Callum hasn’t had a title fight yet. That’s the next step but he is working very hard to achieve as much as he can.”

Callum’s brother Owen (12) has also got into MMA, and is making good progress. It is a case of back to the future for the pair, who learned karate as young children.

Mark explained: “They were both into motocross when they were younger, but we introduced them to karate as a sideline, because it was something different.

“Callum became a brown belt, and then when he started kickboxing, he took to it like a duck to water. He started MMA last year, and has had three wins out of three. The karate skills he learned have not been wasted. The skills are there for life.”

Mark said the family are aware of the dangers of the sport. He added: “As well as the coaching, we’ve always made sure that our lads have got the best in equipment, and we always do the best we can for their welfare.”

In 2017 and 2018, Callum was shortlisted for young sportsman of the year at the Sport Tynedale Awards.