Alf’s Blackbelt Academy officially opened its new ‘home’ with two legends of martial arts carrying out the ceremony – who then wasted little time in putting club members through their paces.

Joe Tierney an 8th dan respected throughout the world – and now as one of the top referees – and Ross Levine, one of the great kickboxer’s currently competing in modern times, officially opened the Academy’s new club at Tollbar Business Park in Stackstead’s, Bacup.

Levine, who flew in from New York to perform the ceremony, then conducted a three hour seminar with some of the academies students.

The Academy, founded by Alf Love more than 20 years ago, is one of the most successful kick boxing club’s in the country and has produced countless national, European and World champions.

The new facility boasts male and female changing rooms with toilets, a viewing area for parents to watch lessons, a larger training area with all the necessary equipment and a state-of-the-art heating/air conditioning system to ensure students are able to train in the best possible environment.

Instructor Scott Love who, like several other volunteers, spent three months hard work in transforming the premises from a tired old call centre into a facility custom built for the Academy’s needs said it said it was a delighted to have two legends at the gym “We were privileged to have two of my martial arts heroes here to open our new home,” he said.

Nigel Fagg said the club has come a long way since it first opened and is delighted with the new facilities.

“We have come on an incredible journey since 1999 when our membership was at around a dozen,” said Fagg.

“We now have over 100 students, and we are running lessons at Ramsbottom twice a week and have our own minibus which we use to collect the younger students from two of the local schools during the week and take them to competitions in at the weekends.

“To now have this fantastic facility is huge reward for all the hard work put in by all of our volunteers along with the support we have had from local businesses who have had the foresight to recognise the benefits the academy continues to provide to members of the local community.”

He added: “The seminar with Ross Levine was a tremendous success, running an hour over the scheduled time as he answering many questions from the students.”

Levine, a true legend of martial arts, was impressed by what he saw on his visit to East Lancashire.

He said: “It had been an absolute pleasure to visit Alf’s Blackbelt Academy, the students are hard-working, motivated and energetic which is a sign of fantastic instruction!”

Anyone wishing to join the academy can find more details by visiting their website at or by calling in between the hours of 3.30pm and 5.00pm and 7.30pm to 9.00pm.