Former Couch potato Clifford aims to motivate others

Clifford Patterson in 2011 at Matt's beach fitness classes
Clifford Patterson in 2011 at Matt's beach fitness classes

As a founder member of Ballycastle Judo Club in 2011, Matt Watterson was keen to promote the sport as well as encourage people who had never competed or training to become more active.

As a qualified personal trainer, he held classes on Ballycastle beach where he was joined by his old school friend, Clifford Patterson.

Clifford Patterson

Clifford Patterson

“When I helped to co-found Ballycastle Judo club over five years ago I wanted to provide an integrated sport in the town other than the run of the mill, football, gaelic or golf.

“I had known Clifford as we went to school together and at that time Clifford had just lost his Mum and was feeling a bit down so I suggested he came along to the classes.

“He lost quite a bit of weight and lots of inches and so I took him with me to Judo and he absolutely loved it. Clifford really got into the sport and he has gone on to compete and he got his Black Belt last year which is brilliant.

“We still train together and go to Coleraine Judo club. the Judo fraternity is a big family and everyone gets to know everyone else as they go to the various competitions around the Province.

“I think Clifford is a great inspiration to people, he shows that just because you may be over weight or have never trained before that you can find a class or a club that suits you. Clifford felt comfortable coming to train with me and he went on to develop a love for the sport. I would love to think he could motivate other people who have maybe been in a similar situation to him to get out there and get active.”

Clifford is the first person to admit that being active and training was something that didn’t come naturally to him.

“I was a chubby kid, “ said Clifford, a washing machine repair man. “I hated sport when I was at school and became a real coach potato. Matt gave me focus through his classes and look what i have achieved in a relatively short space of time.

“I didn’t realise how unfit I was until I went along to Matt’s classes on the beach and at the start if was more about going along to make friends rather than losing weight.

“After going to Matt’s classes for about three months he suggested I went along to judo with him and we started going through the gradings together. I have kept at it and now train with Coleraine Judo Club and I am currently working for my 2nd Dan. I have also competed in the Northern Ireland Masters where I won two Silver Medals and I also won Gold at the Abbey Open and I am currently trying to prepare myself for the grading competition in April.

“For a lot of people who want to do something it’s about taking the first step and finding something that keeps them interested.

“I love Judo because I have made some great friends through it. I am so much fitter and they provide you with a great support system which is important.

I’m 41 years old and only got into the sport when I was 36 but starting to train with Matt gave me focus and look what I’ve achieved since.”