Sheffield martial arts group flying high

A martial arts star hopes to give his training centre a cash boost with help from one of Britian's biggest business magnates.

Friday, 29th April 2016, 6:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2016, 3:11 pm
Liam Richards, who runs Excel Martial Arts, is hoping give his training centre a cash boost, with help from one of Britain's biggest business magnates

Liam Richards, who runs Excel Martial Arts on the Holbrook Industrial Estate, Halfway, has applied for funding from Richard Branson as part of the Voom 2016 contest.

The competition, which is being run by Branson’s Virgin Group, involves projects from across the country submitting applications in a bid to win a share of £1 million in prizes – as well as pitching their business plans to the man himself.

Liam Richards with Poppy Ley, eight, and Hanlo Kruger, six

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Liam, who started Excel in 2007, said: “I have always been inspired by Richard Branson. Winning Voom 2016 would give us a massive boost. When I started I had one student, now we have 350 martial arts students, 250 dance students and over 100 Excel fitness students; 700 in total. Our current premises are too small so the prize money would go towards a new facility .”

To enter the contest, he had to send in a video pitch and a written pitch, explaining why he believed his business should win.

Liam shot to fame on Britain’s Got Talent in 2008 as one half of martial arts duo Strike alongside Danny Ball, from Doncaster.

He said:“Our mission is to be the UK’s largest Martial Arts family with over 40,000 members in 200 academies.”

Liam Richards with Poppy Ley, eight, and Hanlo Kruger, six

Liam will find out on May 25 if Excel has made it onto the Voom 2016 shortlist, which will include 160 projects and businesses.

If successful, he will go on to compete in a ‘pitchathlon’ in front of Richard Branson before hopefully making it to a live finale in London on June 28.

To vote for Excel Academy, visit