Olympic champ fears being forced out of Wimbledon
An Olympic judo champion - who has taught Guy Ritchie and William Hague how to grapple - fears his club could be forced out of Wimbledon.
Ray Stevens, 48, won a silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and has been running a judo and self defence training centre from the Oberon Pavilion in Wimbledon for nearly five years.
Nearly 400 adults and children attend the club each week but its future has been thrown into doubt after Merton Council announced it would be selling off the premises he currently rents from Raynes Park High School to a new bidder.
Mr Stevens, also a black belt in Brazilian jujitsu, said: "It leaves us in a very precarious situation.
"Our worry is that if another school takes over, which is very likely, they could turn around and say we are going to double your rent and that would be the end of our club."
Mr Stevens, who has been selected to carry the Olympic torch during the official parade in July, has asked the council for help in finding an alternative location, but so far they have only pledged to put in a "good word" for him with new tenants.
He added: "That’s not reassuring for us. We cater for kids with learning difficulties, kids who are obese and for children who are trying to build their self esteem because perhaps they have been bullied at school.
"We are doing a lot of good and we don’t feel that we are being supported."
A council spokeswoman said: "We value the contribution Ray Stevens has made to children and local schools through his Judo club.
"We are keen to continue to work with him to find a suitable, alternative training ground in the area.
"For the time being, his club can still be accommodated at Oberon Pavilion until at least April 2013."
Comments are closed on this article.