A MARTIAL arts athlete-turned-coach is getting young people off the streets by training them at his combat academy.

Simon Dempsey is the founder and head coach of Southend Combat Academy, which he runs alongside business partner Horia Radulescu.

Passionate for all martial arts - after training at a young age for many years but unfortunately enduring injuries later in life - the 43-year-old now puts his passion into his students, many of whom have gone on to become national and world champions.

The academy, a full-time martial arts and boxing centre which opened in 2012, continues to train and produce champions, some as young as 13 years old.

Recently, three young athletes from the club have been selected to represent Team GB in the largest martial arts tournament in the world - The International Sport Kickboxing Association (ISKA) world championships.

Kesia Dempsey, 16, from Southend, represented Great Britain in Muay Thai Boxing, which is a full contact combat sport in which competitors use punches, kicks, knees and elbow strikes.

She was also selected to fight in the K1 kickboxing team.

She fought several times during the week-long competition against competitors from countries, including Turkey, Switzerland and Ireland, and won all of her fights, making her the ISKA -55kg Muay Thai and K1 kickboxing world champion.

At just 13 years old, Maria Andrea represented her country for the first time.

After a long, tiring week of competition, she narrowly missed out on gold, losing in the final to a home nation Irish girl, but she won silver for the -55kg Muay Thai division.

Lastly, Yves Brusnello, 18, achieved a silver medal and was selected to represent the country in Muay Thai and K1 kickboxing.

This was his first time competing as an adult in the men’s -65kg divisions.

He won all seven of his fights during the week and won both the ISKA -65kg Muay Thai and -65kg K1 kickboxing world titles.

Brusnello fought in the Muay Thai finals against a top Israeli fighter, winning all three rounds and scooping a third gold medal.

These add to his two World Kickboxing Organisation world titles which he won at the end of last year, bringing the fighter’s amateur career to an end this year.

The British and four times World Champion in K1 and Muay Thai will be turning professional in the new year and hopes to make a career at the elite level of kickboxing.

Simon said: “These youngsters follow in the footsteps of some of the adult national and world Champions, like Adrian Maxim, Andrea Ostrovanu, Jay Whyte, Marissa Charalambous, Kaye Crisp, and others that the academy has produced in recent years.

“At the end of this month, both Kesia and Yves will travel to Milan, in Italy, to take part in the official K1 World Amateur Championships.

“Good performances could bring them to the attention of some of the sport’s highest profile agents and promoters.

“We would like to thank our sponsors at FCI Currency, in Billericay, and Valor Fightwear, from Chelmsford, for their continued support for our athletes.”

The work the academy does in the community was recognised by Southend Council and Essex Police and has seen the initiatives brought together to create a free community gym for disadvantaged or under privileged youths, or those referred for other reasons.

The club also visits schools in the area and specialises in its work with young offenders or those at risk of offending.

Simon added: “Around 100 people a day visit the academy, which is split evenly between adults and children, and plays a huge part in the community by keeping many young people off the street.

“The kids classes also see an even split between girls and boys showing that more females are getting into combat sports and role models, like Kesia, are encouraging women to start a martial art through the positive exposure they get through social media.”

The academy is based at Grainger Road, Southend, and consists of a team of about 20 coaches offering classes for men, women, and children, in boxing, Muay Thai, kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Olympic wrestling and mixed martial arts.

Visit www.scmma.co.uk.