Olympic 'bad boy' Ashley McKenzie says judo saved him


Team GB's Ashley McKenzie says he had to overcome a lot of behavioural and health problems before judo "saved" him.

The British champion became interested in the sport after a fight at the age of 11.

He went to a special school to help with his Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The martial arts star, also wore a hearing aid, had asthma, eczema and a heart operation at 18 months old.

"I used to be a "bad boy," the 23-year-old admitted.

I didn't think I would succeed at anything. But you find your own way and judo saved me
Ashley McKenzie

"I didn't think I would succeed at anything. But you find your own way and judo saved me.

"I was at a special school for my behavioural problems. I had a hearing aid and fits but judo changed all that."

Ashley McKenzie is the subject of a BBC Three documentary, called Bad Boy Olympian, about how his condition affects his life as a competitive sportsman.

He said: "I'm not going to lie, I was a bad boy. Everyone's got a past. But you can change and everyone who is in trouble now can change too.

"I had been arrested and I had been in trouble with the police, but nothing major. "

'Judo history'

Ashley is the number one British judo champion and ranks 22nd worldwide.

He says it hasn't "sunk in yet" that he will be fighting on the opening day of London 2012.

"I'm excited but there's a lot of pressure," he said. "I never thought I would be in the Olympics. So I've reached my goal, but now I want to reach my success.

"It would nice to get a gold, be the first person in judo history for Team GB. Yes, it would be good to get a gold."

To maintain his competition weight of 60kg (9.6st) he is running a lot and training hard.

He said: "I am very proud of myself and my family is proud of me, people used to call me bad boy this and bad boy that, but I'm an Olympian now.

"If you took judo away from me, I don't know where I would be. I like to think I would have gone down the route of education, but I'm not sure.

"My mum thought I would end up being in prison, but she is very happy with me and all my brothers as well. She'll be in the front row."

Bad Boy Olympian is on BBC Three at 9pm on Tuesday (24 July).