Thai boxing coach coach Ken dies

KIND HEARTED: Khru Ken Williams ringside at his North West Muay Thai gym in Padiham. (s)
KIND HEARTED: Khru Ken Williams ringside at his North West Muay Thai gym in Padiham. (s)

A respected Thai Boxing coach who schooled hundreds of young Padiham martial artists has died aged 76.

Khru Ken Williams founded the North West Muay Thai club in the town where he taught Thailand’s traditional fighting sport of Muay Thai to scores of students down the years.

The father-of-two, who did not take up Thai Boxing until the age of 50, ran the club as a non-profit organisation for the love of the sport.

But Ken, who lived in Ightenhill Park Lane most of his life, sadly died on May 12th after a period of illness.

Tributes have poured in from former students and friends calling him a “one in a million” man who was “kind-hearted” and “lovely”.

His son Paul said: “He was a real character. He was very honest, caring and genuine. What you saw was what you got with my dad – you could trust him and rely on him.

“He loved his Thai Boxing – he lived for it from the minute he woke up to the minute he went to bed. When you were on the mats he was very strict but once you were off he would be laughing and joking.

“He set the club up as a non-profit business. It was never about the money it was just about getting kids interested in the sport.

“It epitomised the man he was.”

He was hooked on the sport after going to watch a Thai Boxing grading with his sons and grandson Ryan who went on to be a junior British champion.

Ken took all his gradings right up to instructor level and then opened his own gym which is still teaching students in Fleetwood Street.

The former Rosegrove pupil was a founder member of Burnley Caving Club and would meet once a week to go potholing in places like Yorkshire.

Ken was part of a cave rescue team called out to save stricken cavers.

Paul said: “Caving can be quite a dangerous sport and it went wrong a few times. He was called out on his honeymoon to a rescue.

“If someone was in danger of losing their life he was part of a team that would go out and help.”

Ken, who worked as a tool maker during his career, was a member of the Ighten Mount Bowling Club for 55 years and was also a keen walker.

Khru Joe Fitzpatrick has taken over the club from Ken and will continue to teach Thai Boxing at the North West Muay Thai gym.

Ken’s funeral was due to be held at Burnley Creamtorium on Tuesday which would have been his 77th birthday.

He is survived by sons Paul and Peter and grandchildren Ryan and Paige.