WOULD-BE exponents of Thai boxing are to be welcomed into the Wolfslair.
A new club with classes for adults and children will from next week meet twice-nightly at the martial arts gym in West Bank.
Wolfslair International MMA Academy is already home to a professional fight team in Mixed Martial Arts, also known as cagefighting.
But the Cromwell Street facility, opened just over two years ago, also offers training in disciplines such as ju-jitsu, Brazilian ju-jitsu and tae kwon-do.
The launch of the new classes in Thai boxing - or Muay Thai - will see sessions on Monday and Wednesday evenings, starting on December 11.
The Wolf Cubs kids class - for five to 15-year-olds - is from 6-7pm and the adults between 7-8pm.
The instructor Gavin Sterritt is a British and European super-middleweight champion and number one in the independent UK rankings in the 12-stone division.
Sterritt, 27, lives in Penketh and works at Sorex on the St Michael's estate in Widnes.
He began his fighting career as a teenager and is now back training at Warrington Thai Boxing, where he started.
In between, he has trained at various top UK gyms and spent nine months in Thailand working with one of the leading coaches in the Far East.
Thai boxing has come on to the Wolfslair timetable through Warrington Thai Boxing's Dave Jackson joining the coaching team.
Jackson has successfully taught the art for 20 years and has produced British, Commonwealth, European and world champions.
The profile of Wolfslair's MMR professional fight team has risen with Michael Bisping winning a six-fight contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championships.
Bisping has his second fight in Las Vegas this New Year's Eve - after winning his first - while Paul Kelly could soon join his Widnes team-mate on the UFC rosta after earning trials.
Because of their progress, Wolfslair bosses wanted to expand their coaching set-up with a 'stand-up' teacher.
Jackson complements Brazilian UFC fighter Mario Sukata, who specialises in mixed martial arts, ju-jitsu and submission wrestling, and boxing tutor Tony Quigley.
'Between us, we cover all three parts of the game,' explained Jackson.
'I come down during the daytime to work with the pro team and we also decided we would introduce Thai boxing in the evening to generate more interest in the community and also something for the kids to do.
'We want to get youngsters involved in Thai boxing so that, in time, we will have a fight team coming through from Wolfslair.
'We can start them from five years old on our insurance and Gavin will have a team of qualified coaches as back-up.
'Over the last 20 years, I have had lads from Widnes coming to train with me in Warrington and quite a few of them are going to offer Gavin their moral support by coming to train here for a while.
'Like all martial arts, Thai boxing is effective self-defence. It also keeps you very fit and is a great character-building sport.
'People who watch it might think it is brutal but I wouldn't say that.
'They don't get hurt as such - especially the juniors, who are all padded up. The kids really enjoy themselves.'
As a prelude to the new Thai boxing classes, Wolfslair will this Saturday host an Inter-Club event, featuring Thai boxing exponents from the North West and Midlands.
Adults and children will fight alongside each other over three rounds but there will be no winners or losers.
'When people are doing a sport, sometimes to get them into the competitive side is a big step mentally,' explained Jackson.
'The fear of losing is greater than the fear of getting hurt.
'Bringing on an inter-club competition first with no decisions gets them past that mental barrier and also encourages more technical fighting.'
* The cost of each one-hour Thai boxing session is £5 for juniors and £6 adults. But Wolfslair are offering a free introductory lesson or family spectator ticket for the inter-club event. Telephone the gym on 0151 422 8242 or Dave Jackson on 07962 343043 for details.