A KICKBOXING instructor has been hailed a hero, and not for the first time.
Dave Gentry (pictured left), from Brookside, Uxbridge, was nominated as a local hero by the mother of a lad who he encouraged to start kickboxing aged eight when he was being bullied and didn’t want to go to school.
Mr Gentry ‘took him under his wing’ and gradually rebuilt his confidence and trained him up to be a black belt 1st Dan.
Mother Lynne Dubell, from Acre Way, Northwood, said: “I nominated Dave because he really does do loads for the community and charities all over the country. He made so much difference to my son’s life, he gave him confidence. He’s a real selfless character always putting others first.”
Ms Dubell’s son, now 15, recently got mugged and put into practice the self-defence moves Dave taught him.
“He was able to block an attack to his face and even though he had everything stolen, he didn’t get hurt,” said Ms Dubell. But that is just one of Mr Gentry’s many achievements. In December 2012 he saved the life of Sam Baker, 15, who suffered from anaphylactic shock during a kickboxing class at Hillingdon Sports and Leisure Complex.
Just the week before, Mr Gentry had taken a course dealing with anaphylaxis, and it was this commitment to the safety of his students that led him to save one of their lives.
He also works in schools across London educating children about street and knife crime and is campaigning to make it part of the national curriculum.
Not one to turn down a challenge, Mr Gentry regularly takes part in sports events to fundraise for charity.
His friend, Lee Latchford-Evans, from pop group Steps, has two close relatives suffering with diabetes, so the pair decided to embark on a host of sponsored challenges to raise money and awareness for the disease.
Last year Mr Gentry ran the London Marathon and the Birmingham half marathon and he is now about to embark on a summer full of sporting events.
In May he will run the London 10k and later this year the Great South Run, all while training for The 100-mile Bike Ride and the London to Paris bike ride.
When Mr Gentry was told about his nomination for the Community Champion award, he said he was ‘shocked’.
“It’s been a while since I taught Ms Dubell’s son so it’s lovely to be remembered for what I’ve done.
“It’s a really nice feeling to know I’ve helped other people because that’s all I want to do. I’m very honoured to be nominated.”
In 2008, Mr Gentry saved the life of a boy who got his neck caught in a washing line and was nominated for a Pride of Britain award.
“My friends joke that they want to walk around with me because I seem to find myself in these situations. I believe in fate and I was just at the right place at the right time,” Mr Gentry said.
“It’s not a habit I want to make, but that’s two boys’ lives I’ve saved now. I guess if you’re meant to be there, you are.”
As well as life saving, Mr Gentry agrees he can turn people’s lives around through his kick boxing classes. “I get a lot of people – adults too, not just children – come in with no confidence and over the years I help them.”
Past students have gone on to compete in British and world championships. “I just enjoy making people who have no self esteem understand what they are capable of,” he added.
During his 20-year kick boxing career, Mr Gentry has been awarded eight English and three American Martial Arts Hall of Fame awards.
To sponsor Mr Gentry, visit: www.justgiving.com/dave-gentry1.
To nominate your local hero fill in the nomination form available in the paper each week, go online at www.uxbridgegazette.co.uk, or call the news desk on 01895 451000 and tell us who deserves an award and why.