Blue Belt for Chichester man with muscle wasting disease

Luis Coward, 27, has achieved his blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu.
Luis Coward, 27, has achieved his blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu.

A gym team cheered on their teammate as a man with a muscle wasting disease achieved his blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Luis Coward, 27, has been wheelchair bound since birth and started training with the jiu-jitsu group, led by Jack Magee at Grit Gym, Chichester, four years ago.

Although not expected to live into his teenage years, Luis is now a national competitor in the martial art and his hard work paid off at special grading competition on Saturday.

Luis said: “I was very shocked and happy to be given my blue belt by Jack Magee.”

Proud on his behalf is Luis’ mum Marie Coward, who runs the fruit and veg market stall in Chichester.

She said her son, who lives with a carer, trained for around one and a half hours a day at Westergate Leisure Centre and Grit Gym to keep up his muscle mass.

She said: “He gives 100 per cent to everything but I’m really pleased for him, it couldn’t have gone to a better person.

“He’s been trying for so long, he was over the moon.”

Instructor Jack Magee from the Mad Hatters Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu team said the grading was ‘quite emotional’.

He said Luis is carried onto the mat by team-mates at competitions and the group see him as a key player.

He said: “He’s a good part of the team and we’re really proud of what he’s done.”

The grading paves the way for Luis to compete in his first ever blue belt contest in Brighton next month.

Grit gym owner Jason Mines said Luis really deserved the blue belt honour.

“A lot of people quit and he’s just battled through and he’s an inspiration,” he said.

It comes as Grit Gym asks for planning permission to move from Station Approach to a site in Terminus Road, without which Jason said the gym will have to close.

Support for the plans is still growing, with more than 200 letters and comments backing the application to date. Reference 18/01357/FUL