Troubled boy turns life around with taekwondo
SUFFERING ADHD, out-of-control and quickly heading off the rails, 12-year-old Gavin Conroy needed direction, and it came from an unlikely source.
Living in Karara at the time, battling behavioural issues, hyperactivity and a bad temper, Mr Conroy heard about taekwondo lessons starting up in his small town and signed up immediately.
Now 23 and working nightshift at John Dee, Mr Conroy is not only a second Dan black belt but he teaches the martial art as well.
"It changed my life, gave me purpose," he said.
"It was the right thing to happen at the right time."
Mr Conroy said when he started those first lessons he couldn't sit still.
"I learned over time to focus my mind," he said.
"I began to focus on nothing by the craft of taekwondo.
"I learned control and patience, strict discipline and a greater respect for others"
Mr Conroy said without the sport he would not be where he was today.
"There's no doubt it helped me become the person I am," he said.
"Without it I would be running amok somewhere."
With help from instructor Merv Coleman, Mr Conroy learned to become a teacher himself.
"I knew it was something I wanted to do almost immediately," he said.
"And for 11 years, I've been training with Merv and my dad and learning the martial art as well how to pass the skills I've learned onto others."
In 2014, Mr Conroy's older sister Naomi died in a car accident.
"The taekwondo community, which has always been more of a family, fell in around us," he said.
"They helped us get through it all and come out the other side.
"As well as the wider community
"Without the discipline and focus I'd learned anything could have happened then."
For the past three years Mr Conroy has been teaching Warwick residents the finer points of taekwondo. Last weekend, Mr Conroy began a self-defence only class, running out of Voyage Fitness in Palmerin St.
"When I heard about that young girl who got bashed in the street, I realised there were no straight self-defence classes in town," he said.
"I wanted to help the younger people to be able to protect themselves if needed.
"And maybe give them something else to focus on rather than drink and drugs."
The classes are for people 15 years and over.
"The methods are full on," Mr Conroy said.
"This is very serious stuff, and you could hurt yourself or others easily so we wanted to start with an older age group."
Mr Conroy said many parents had thanked him for turning their kids around.
"Kids with tempers and behaviour issues just like I had," he said.
"They're calmer and more focused.
"And parents feel better when they know their kids are able to defend themselves."
For more information phone Gavin on 0428575742.