WHEN Bart Szymczyk was born he weighed less than a pound and was given little chance of survival owing to the cerebral palsy he was suffering from.
Despite pulling through and being told that he would never walk he has defied all the odds and qualified as a boxing coach.
The 21-year-old’s condition means his balance and mobility are affected, but after a number of leg operations to help him walk he has finally achieved his dream.
Bart, from Clifton, York, said: “I nearly died when I was born. If 10 is full health on the scale, I was at one.
“My parents knew I would be disabled but now I’m so happy because I can walk and fight in a ring and I’m so grateful that I’m still alive.
“Just because you’re classed as disabled doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do what you want to do. I don’t like to be stopped so I try to do what I can.
“I don’t care what other people say about me being disabled and I don’t listen when people say I can’t do things.”
He added: “People ask me how I can be happy if I’m disabled but I don’t care. Boxing is my passion.”
Bart’s progress increased dramatically when he was put in touch with Andrew “Rocky” Miller at the Community Spirit Boxing Club in Acomb, York.
He has since volunteered there for more than a year, helping to lead children’s classes, and since he began training at the club his mobility has been so improved, that he no longer needs a wheelchair.
He said: “I like to help people. I just enjoying everything to do with boxing. I’m now a coach in Rocky’s club and I have good friends. Everyone accepts me and I’m not bothered about my condition.”
Bart has gone from strength to strength with the club – where he helps out four days a week – and now hopes to set up a disabled boxing club with funding provided by North Yorkshire Sport.
He also volunteers at Energise gym in York where he exercises and has learned to climb.
Rocky said: “He couldn’t walk and now he’s up on his feet helping others.”