A FORMER professional kickboxer is continuing the good work of his late father after opening a brand-new gym in Newport.

AJ’s Kickboxing Academy, owned by ex-Welsh, British and Commonwealth champion Chris Morgan, now has its own premises on the Leeway Industrial Estate.

It has been a long time coming for head coach Morgan, who has seen the club call various venues home over the years and worked tirelessly to get the keys to the academy’s new base.

The foundations of the academy were laid by Chris’s dad Alan, who started training with his son almost 30 years ago.

In 2011, Alan decided to gather a group of kickboxing students and start classes at a community centre.

With just five members in the beginning, the club struggled to cover the cost of rent.

Now, eight years on, AJ’s have grown to 50 members, offering numerous classes to accommodate women, children, cadets and adults.

Chris, a 4th Dan black belt, retired from fighting in 2009 and has followed in his father’s footsteps in his love for the sport and passion for coaching.

Chris and his coaching team take pride in seeing children and adults improve and develop – some want to get fit, others wish to compete, while some are keen to learn the art of kickboxing though AJ’s grading system.

“It’s great to see kids and adults climb the ladder in terms of getting grading and winning competitions, but the most satisfying is seeing students go from not being very good at something to growing competent,” said Chris.

The martial art of kickboxing offers core principles which lend themselves to real life, and Chris takes immense satisfaction in seeing children and adults flourish after just a few weeks, both inside and outside the gym.

“It teaches them life skills, core skills,” he added. “It teaches them respect and gives people self-confidence which carries them right through life.”