Ipswich amputee succeeds goal to achieve black belt

Aaron Hawkins has now achieved a black belt in Judo.

Aaron Hawkins lost his leg in a motorcycle accident ten years ago, but through hard work and determination, has now achieved a black belt in Judo. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

An Ipswich man who had to have his leg amputated following a motorbike accident a decade ago has achieved his black belt in judo.

Aaron Hawkins, 28, has been doing judo since he was nine years old.

Aged 18, he was involved in a motorbike accident which resulted in every bone below his knee breaking. 

“I was in hospital for two or three weeks while they tried to save my leg,” he remembered. “But then my foot died, and they had to amputate.” 

Aaron Hawkins was 18 when he lost his leg. This was, he says a huge shock to the system.

Aaron Hawkins was 18 when he lost his leg. This was, he says a huge shock to the system. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Aarons Hawkins was adamant that he was not going to give up.

Aarons Hawkins has overcome many hurdles on his journey to becoming a black belt in judo. However, he was adamant that he was not going to give up. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Within months, however, Aaron had returned to the judo mat. He was, he admits, “stubborn” about not letting the loss of his leg hold him back. 

“To pick yourself up, after an injury like that, when it would have been so easy just to give up and not bother, is incredible,” said Andrew Topliss, chairman and one of the coaches at Ipswich Judo Club. 

“He's an incredible inspiration to all the kids in the club.” 

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Aaron had to contend with many hurdles, just to get the chance to try for his black belt. 

He had to have a custom-made prosthetic leg made, and work with the British Judo Association to convince them that he was able to compete safely. 

Andrew Topliss, Chairman and coach at Ipswich Judo Club, says Aaron is an inspiration to the club's younger members.

Andrew Topliss, Chairman and coach at Ipswich Judo Club, says Aaron is an inspiration to the club's younger members. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Aaron Hawkins says he feels 'relieved' to have reached black belt status.

Aaron Hawkins says he feels 'relieved' to have reached black belt status. He has been doing judo since he was aged nine, and was determined not to let the loss of his leg prevent him from doing the sport he loves. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

He was also competing against able-bodied athletes. 

“To get a black belt, you have to go to gradings. For every fight you win, you get 10 points. You have to get 100 points,” Aaron explained. 

“At a lot of the gradings I was going to start I was trialling stuff out on my leg. I was only picking up a few points at a time.  

“But then, over the last couple of months, I've actually been able to pick up a good number of points.” 

This achievement has taken more than 10 years of hard work. 

“I was determined I’d get it eventually,” said Aaron. “I’ve had my brown belt since I was 16, maybe 17. 

“It’s such a relief.” 

He is now preparing for a charity skydive with a group of other amputees on May 7. 

“We’re all doing it for Limb Power, a charity for amputees to help get them into recreational activities, like sports or the arts, to help stop depression.”