Fit­ness fundi friend and body­guard to king of pop

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - KARISHMA DIPA karishma.dipa@inl.co.za

IN MA­TRIC, master trainer Matt Fid­des, who was once Michael Jack­son’s per­sonal body­guard, had a pre­mo­ni­tion. He wrote in one of his school books at the time that he would be the best fit­ness in­struc­tor, that he would work on his own terms and that he would be a mil­lion­aire at 21.

“I wrote in my school book in the maths class about 10 goals I wanted to achieve by the age of 20,” he told The Star dur­ing a re­cent visit to the coun­try.

Fid­des is one of the most re­spected ex­perts in the in­ter­na­tional world of fit­ness. He re­ceived the high­est hon­our by be­ing in­ducted into the UK Mar­tial Arts Hall of Fame and was pre­sented with the pres­ti­gious Mar­tial Arts Su­per­star Award.

He sur­passed all these goals ear­lier than he orig­i­nally planned. “I achieved all these goals by the time I was 19,” he said.

His jour­ney might read like a novel ready to be made into a block­buster Hol­ly­wood flick, but he has had to over­come sev­eral ob­sta­cles on the way to the top.

“At the age of seven I was be­ing bul­lied at school and a child who sat next to me sug­gested I ac­com­pany him to a tae kwon do class.”

From there, Fid­des said it only took 30 min­utes in the class for him to know that this was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

“I found my ca­reer path early in life.” Fid­des said what drew him to the sport was that it not only taught him how to deal with bul­lies, but also helped his self-es­teem.

“There was no need to fight be­cause mar­tial arts taught me con­fi­dence and to not let bul­lies get the bet­ter of me.”

It was these lessons, to­gether with hard work and per­se­ver­ance, that Fid­des used to help oth­ers trans­form their bod­ies and minds through fit­ness.

His of­fi­cial ven­ture into the fit­ness world be­gan when he re­alised he had a suc­cess­ful busi­ness model with mar­tial arts schools and de­cided to fran­chise it.

“Peo­ple were buy­ing fran­chises all over the UK, Ger­many and Aus­tralia.

“It was tough at times and I had to sac­ri­fice a lot of hav­ing a nor­mal life to get to where I am to­day, but it’s worth it, as I get to help peo­ple and change lives.”

His work ethic at such a young age caught the at­ten­tion of the me­dia and he se­cured his big­gest break – work­ing with the “king of pop”. “There was a lot of me­dia at­ten­tion around me at 17, with the head­lines in UK news­pa­pers say­ing, ‘Bul­lied boy be­comes mil­lion­aire’.”

These ar­ti­cles caught the eye of Uri Geller, a world-renowned il­lu­sion­ist, ma­gi­cian, tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity and self-pro­claimed psy­chic who con­tacted Fid­des about mak­ing fit­ness videos to­gether.

The pair quickly be­came friends and it was through Gel­lar that he met Jack­son. “Michael was so re­spect­ful to me and bowed when he in­tro­duced him­self to me, just like we do in mar­tial arts,” said Fid­des.

“It turned out that Michael was a big mar­tial arts and Bruce Lee fan and al­ready had a black belt.” At the time, the mu­si­cian was in fi­nan­cial trou­ble and be­cause se­cu­rity was so ex­pen­sive, Fid­des de­cided to be Jack­son’s body­guard free of charge.

“I didn’t need the money, so I helped him out for over 10 years and I got him to a sec­ond-de­gree black (belt) and pro­vided se­cu­rity for him when he needed it.”

Fid­des said al­though it was chal­leng­ing pro­tect­ing one of the most fa­mous peo­ple in the world, he thor­oughly en­joyed the time they spent to­gether.

“He was a won­der­ful man and was great to my fam­ily. When my mother was dy­ing of breast can­cer he would call her daily from wher­ever he was in the world.”

When Jack­son died, Fid­des said, sev­eral other celebri­ties wanted to work with him.

“I was not in­ter­ested in be­ing a body­guard, I have a huge com­pany and I only ever did it as a favour for Michael,” he added.

But he didn’t mind help­ing stars with stalk­ers, death threats or fit­ness ad­vice.

This in­cluded su­per­model Caprice, mu­si­cians Sting, Brit­ney Spears, the Bee Gees and all the Jack­son broth­ers, and he has even ad­vised on Kim Kar­dashian’s se­cu­rity is­sues.

Now Fid­des, who is married with two chil­dren, wants to con­cen­trate on his brand and his mar­tial arts schools around the world, with plans to open one is South Africa soon.

GOOD PALS: Matt Fid­des with his friend Amor Vit­tone dur­ing the film­ing of her show Skoonpa se Tong.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.