Ray Wilson

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RAY WILSON, who has died at the age of 73, was an inspirational karate teacher and the driving force behind the founding of the Leeds Karate Centre in the early 1970s.

Over the next four decades, he went on to play a part in teaching thousands of initiates the intricacies of the martial art he learned himself from Japanese master Kanazawa.

Numerous students of his went on to win both regional and national honours, one even playing a part in Oscar-winning Hollywood blockbuster Gladiator.

But, despite his prowess in the sport and charisma while teaching in the dojo, Mr Wilson is remembered by most as a shy and modest man.

“I trained under him for five years after he first founded the club and I can honestly say I never had a better coach,” said student Kam Sian. “He didn’t just teach me karate but how to grow up; he taught me self-discipline and respect – which are always an important part of karate – but he also taught me how to walk with my head held high.”

When Mr Sian returned to the UK from a spell working in the United States in the late 1990s, he took his own children to the dojo where Mr Wilson – known to most in the karate community as “Shihan”, which means “master” – took them under his wing and trained them in the principles of karate too.

“It’s difficult to explain just how much of an inspiration he was to so many people,” said Mr Sian,

When not running karate classes, Mr Wilson was an experienced mechanic and also ran a transport company in Leeds before failing health led to the family relocating first to Hornsea and then Cornwall – although Mr Wilson still travelled back to Leeds once a month to teach karate.

A funeral service will be held at Rawdon Crematorium at 3.40pm on Monday. Donations to the World Society for the Protection of Animals are requested in lieu of flowers.