TEENAGE martial arts sensation Callum Beeckmans has successfully defended his national title.

The fast-improving 15-year-old, from Prudhoe, has made giant strides since taking up mixed martial arts (MMA) last year.

In March, he won the Machine MMA title for competitors weighing 62kg and under, with victory over Cumbrian opponent Sol Street.

Callum took on an older opponent, Sheffield’s Jonathan Webster, at Stanley Civic Hall in County Durham last weekend.

And he retained his title with a comfortable first round victory, which is a measure of the youngster’s progress.

Callum’s dad Mark said: “We’re over the moon for Callum. He’s into various martial arts which means he can do MMA, and he absolutely loves it.

“He’s learning all the time and just wants to keep improving. I was nervous going into Saturday, but I needn’t have been because Callum was so confident and so convincing in his performance. The balcony was full of people supporting Callum. We are grateful to them all.”

Callum, who was a seasoned junior kickboxer before venturing into MMA last year, has a busy schedule in the weeks and months ahead.

Mark explained: “He’s been invited to compete in a world championship kickboxing event in Barnsley, in July.

“He’s also got into boxing, and he is working towards a big fixture at the end of June.”

Callum’s younger brother Owen is also a keen martial arts enthusiast, and both brothers work with retired MMA star Ian Freeman, at his specialist MMA school, which is also based at Stanley. Callum also works alongside Hexham-based David Wells, the only coach outside of New York certified to teach 52 Blocks, an African-American martial art which focuses on defensive moves.

Mark added: “My lads are surrounded by top people. We are grateful to Ian Freeman and his family for all they do, and also to David, who is present every time Callum competes.”

Mark said he and his family are aware of the dangers of their chosen sports, and seek the very best in coaching and equipment.