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‘The Beast from the East’: Shak Khan prepares for UK return in the sport he loves

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KILLER KHAN: Shak Khan is preparing to fight on UK soil next year after a number of years competing in Pakistan

KILLER KHAN: Shak Khan is preparing to fight on UK soil next year after a number of years competing in Pakistan

Growing up in the era of the Dynamite Kid, Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior, British-Pakistani Shak Khan’s love affair with the squared circle began when he was just a teen.

As a 15-year-old with little direction in life, he moved to Blackpool with his father from Halifax.

It was there that he first stumbled upon amateur wrestling at the famed Pleasure Beach, and there that he says he knew what he wanted to become when he grew up – a wrestler.

“The Pleasure Beach ran around 20 seasons of wrestling, inviting members of the public to get in the ring with a wrestler to see if they could last a round,” Shak recalls.

“If they succeeded they won some money. It was our job to make sure they didn’t succeed.”

Although still a young teen, Shak looked up to the competitors as role models and approached his idol at the time, ‘Dangerous’ Dave Duran, for advice.

He was told to go away and work on technique, which he did by training in judo for two years, before finally stepping into the ring for training with the brawlers of Blackpool.

“I was beaten black and blue by them for two to three months at first,” Shak explains. “It was only after that time, only after I had earned their respect, that I began wrestling for real.

“I wrestled all over the UK for various promoters and then when I was 21, I wrestled in Dubai.”

A career turning point for Shak was when he met another of his idols, the well-respected Ali Shan, during a visit to Pakistan.

Inspiring him to continue pursuing a career in the hard-hitting profession, Shak, who also goes by the ring name ‘Raja Sony Pawan’ says he knew right then that he would never be leaving the industry.

Today, the 42-year-old is living out his dream as an amateur wrestler, taking on opponents from Blackpool to Kashmir whilst also training the next generation of athletes from his own wrestling gym.

He won the Pakistani World Championship in Azad Kashmir, whilst representing his home town of Sochani, near Dadyal, and is returning to action in the UK next year to face off in an international contest.

“I’m up against Austrian champion, Michael Kovac,” Shak says. “There was nobody who would face me in the UK so we had to look overseas for an opponent.

“It promises to be a great match. I’m unbeaten in Kashmir and am really looking forward to putting on a good show for the people of Birmingham who come down to the show.”

He adds: “I may be 42 now but I still feel 18. I know that I was born to be a wrestler and will continue doing it for a long time to come.”

You can see Shak compete next year when the fight is broadcast live on Sky channel ‘TV 99’ (channel 842).

Also booked in for the night of action is a ten-man battle royal, featuring former WWE superstar, Joey Legend, and British talents, the UK hooligans.

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£50million investment!

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Bradford has been selected as just one of five regions across the whole of England to be allocated substantial funding to help improve the lives of tens of thousands of children.

As part of the Big Lottery Fund, the city will receive £49million as it takes the lead in a ground-breaking ten-year initiative to see what methods are best for laying the foundations for  zero to  three-year-olds to improve their future health, social and educational outcomes.

The investment aims to improve the life chances of more than 60,000 babies and children across all the regions, which also include, Lambeth, Southend, Nottingham and Blackpool.

INVESTMENT: Big Lottery Fund England Director, Dharmendra Kanani, pictured with Sonia Siddique and her children Ayaan and Aydin, at Bradford’s Talbot and Brunswick Children’s Centre

INVESTMENT: Big Lottery Fund England Director, Dharmendra Kanani, pictured with Sonia Siddique and her children Ayaan and Aydin, at Bradford’s Talbot and Brunswick Children’s Centre

Dharmendra Kanani, Big Lottery Fund England Director, explained more about the project and how important it was for children to get the best start in life.

He said: “Parents want the best for their children and as a society we know that what happens in the first three years of life profoundly affects a child’s future life chances.

“A poor start in life can affect your health, wellbeing, outlook on life and how you form relationships.

“Prevention matters more in the early years as we have a much greater understanding of what can and might improve the life chances of a future generation, that is why this investment is focusing on the three key areas of social and emotional development, nutrition, and language and communication development.”

Bradford Trident will lead the partnership in West Yorkshire’s selected city which will aim to engage with around 20,000 babies and children over the next decade.

According to Bradford Trident the district as a whole has significant deprivation and within the three target wards - Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton - there are high rates of infant mortality, child poverty, poor oral health, high child obesity rates, low numbers of school readiness and high rates of domestic violence and child protection orders.

Research shows that one in five children in the three wards have poor communication skills at the school readiness stage and one in three children have poor social and emotional development when starting school.

Meanwhile, this latest funding will also allow midwives caseloads to be reduced to enable more personalised care, provide more home visits and established links with children’s centres.

A ‘befriender scheme’ will be introduced for all expectant and new mothers affected by or at risk of postnatal depression, while a targeted service working with parents will increase their understanding of infant brain development.

There will also be home-based language development pro-grammes, outdoor play, story-telling, exercise activities and nutrition programmes.

Tens of thousands of vulnerable babies across the country will now get the chance to have a better start in life following the £215 million Big Lottery Fund investment.

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