When former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said “Do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man”, he could have been referring to world champion kickboxer Jack Bristowe (16).
The Holbeach Drove Hitman has collected an astonishing array of titles since taking up the sport in April 2010.
They include three consecutive World Karate and Kickboxing Council (WKC) gold medals, four British Chinese Kickboxing Association (BCKA) national titles, two Martial Arts Illustrated Open Championship titles and at least 12 other gold medals.
But don’t expect any Muhammed Ali-style bragging from Jack who combines his sport with A-level studies in law, physical education, psychology and sociology at Spalding Grammar School.
Jack said: “I’ve surprised myself in terms of how well I’ve done because I’ve only been doing kickboxing competitively for about four years.
“I wanted to do it to keep fit, but then I got into some competitions and slowly realised how much I liked it.
“I started training a lot more and my coach Alex Barrowman made a lot of difference to the point that I know I wouldn’t have got where I am now if I didn’t train with him.”
Jack is a member of Corby BCKA Club in Northamptonshire where he is taken five times a week by his parents Christine and Les Bristowe who also follow their son around the world at kickboxing tournaments.
Christine said: “Jack is doing extremely well because his dedication and commitment are second to none.
“I love to watch him when he is fighting on the mat because he is so fast and strong.
“I wouldn’t call it a sacrifice to support Jack because it’s become part of our lives and when we go to competitions, it’s like being part of a second family for us.”
Jack’s first taste of success came at the BCKA National Championships in 2010 when he won a gold medal under light contact rules where points are scored for clean and controlled strikes.
A year later, Jack travelled to Cadiz, Spain, for his first WKC World Championships and came back to Holbeach Drove as a world champion.
“When I was travelling to Cadiz, I didn’t think I’d ever win,” Jack said.
“Building up to the qualification fight to go through to the first round, I was so nervous through not knowing what it was going to be like.
“But the nerves started to go and when I got to the final, I didn’t really think it was true.
“The final itself was quite one-sided and winning the world title was unbelievable.”
Jack’s coach Alex Barrowman said: “I wasn’t surprised when he won the world title because Jack has a work ethic and pushes himself far more than any of the other teenagers I coach.
“Jack really has a killer instinct to get his points, but he also has a lot of natural talent and gets on with what he does.”
After winning six out of seven major tournaments in 2012, Jack was ready to defend his world title in Montreal, Canada, in 2012.
Jack said: “There was a lot of pressure on me going into those championships, knowing that you have to keep your title, which made winning it very special.
“At the time when you are fighting, you’re enemies with your opponent.
“But afterwards, you show respect to each other, make friends and get on fine.
“My attitude with kickboxing is whatever happens on the mat, stays on the mat.”
Alex said: “We teach discipline, self-awareness and respect both on and off the mat. It’s drummed into our fighters at every session because we try to make them a rounded person, not just a fighter.
“Jack is a quiet chap all the time and he doesn’t make a lot of noise, but he’s quite good with the younger members of the squad and he’s very generous with his time.”
In 2014, Jack has already collected gold medals at the WKC British Championships, World Association of Kickboxing Organisations British Championships and, most recently, at the English Open National Championships in Manchester.
He is due to fight in the USA for the first time at the International Sport Kickboxing Association (ISKA) US Open at Walt Disney World, Florida in July before Jack goes for a fourth world title in a row in Albufeira, Portugal, in November.
Jack said: “I’m not quite sure how I manage to fit in my schoolwork with my training and fighting.
“I think about how far I’ve come in the sport sometimes and it’s weird, even though I have no fear and I’d go up against anyone.”
Christine said: “Les and myself are extremely proud of Jack and how he has turned out.”
Jack Bristowe goes to the ISKA US Open in July and the WKC World Championships in November not only with the support of his parents and coach Alex Barrowman. The 16-year-old Spalding Grammar School student can also count on the support of friends and staff at the Priory Road school. Headmaster Nigel Ryan said: “It has been a pleasure to see Jack make such a success of his sporting talents. “It has not always been an easy journey for him and there have been times when he struggled to keep on top of the demands of academic study, while performing at a world class level in kickboxing. “But he persevered and with determination, along with the support of his family and teachers, he has progressed into our Sixth Form with a credible set of GCSEs and the skills and knowledge to successfully combine his A-level studying with his kickboxing ambitions. “We have also always been impressed with the modesty Jack has shown about his successes and he is indeed a credit to himself, his family and the school.” Jack is currently looking for sponsorship and donations to help fund his training and travel expenses for kickboxing competitions.
If you can help, visit the website www.gofundme.com/5ou978