Saiyam Maroof, a Taekwondo student at the United Martial Arts Academy was recently awarded a prestigious accolade.

Bradford’s Maroof was announced Martial Artist of the Decade for his services to the ancient Korean art of Self-Defence Taekwondo.

Maroof who appeared in the Telegraph and Argus back in 2014 for winning a Taekwondo competition, was born with a hole in his heart which saw him have numerous operations including open heart surgery when he was just four months old.

Brothers Parvez Akhtar and Zaheer Nazeer from Overland Developments who have sponsored the United Martial Arts Academy over the years said that Maroof was one of the reasons that motivated and inspired them to continue their support of the Academy.

Akhtar said: “Saiyam grew up in the Neighbourhood of Thornbury and I was born a few streets from where Saiyam lives.

“In my days growing up, there was not many opportunities and few martial arts clubs. In comparison to nowadays there are so many clubs, so it’s hard to know where to start.

“I think it’s an amazing achievement for anyone to dedicate themselves to a sport such as Taekwondo for over a decade, particularly with his underlying health condition, and to achieve what he has done is nothing short of sensational.

“He is an exemplary role model for other youngsters in our community. Research has shown that most successful adults whether it be in business, sports or entrepreneurship were all linked by the fact all had participated in extra-curricular activities during their childhood.”

Akhtar added: “Saiyam’s story is a testament to any individual who has passion, commitment and dedication for something and if they persevere, the rewards are incredible.

“There is no secret to success; its pure discipline, pure hard work, pure test of one’s character to keep going until you have achieved your goal.

“Well done to Saiyam and to his mother for supporting him through thick and thin; his coach for motivating him, and his own attitude, consistency and positive mindset to overcome any setbacks, barriers and challenges in his life to achieve all that he has in Taekwondo.”

Maroof is currently studying construction at Leeds College and working part-time at Ice stone Gelato on a weekend.

Nasreen Khan, Saiyam’s mum, said: “I am extremely proud of my son.

“He is a blessing from God, and he has come a long way and we still have a long way to go.

“Life is full of ups and downs twists and turns. Saiyam is still going strong and still may require an operation further down the line, but until then, he is happy with life and is very optimistic about his future ambitions.

“Taekwondo I believe has helped him build his character, increase his self-esteem and give him the confidence to persevere through the challenges of life.

Zam, his coach, added: “Saiyam is an asset. He achieved his blackbelt back in 2019 and still comes regular to training.

“I didn’t expect him to last this long as so many students give up after a year or two. He is still going strong yet with his health conditions the last person you would have expected to be a Decodian.

“Saiyam is a gem and is one in a million who is a positive role model and asset sharing his knowledge and inspiring others.

“This reward is well and truly deserved and sets a benchmark for others to inspire to.