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By Ben Stores
Published on Mon Feb 28 10:49:01 GMT 2011

HE’S no karate kid, but superfit 91-year-old Cristobal Campos is giving youngsters a run for their money.

The pensioner refuses to let age get in the way of what he does as he gears up to launch a series of tae kwon do classes.

Cristobal, who took up the sport at the age of 80 after watching his grandsons, said: “I’ve been practising tae kwon do for 11 years now and I’m a fourth Dan black belt. It helps me keep active and is good for self-defence.

“I am known as Master Campos.”

And a talent for martial arts must run in the family – Cristobal’s son Mike, 57 and grandsons Adam, 21, and David, 26, are also black belts.

The great-grandad, who lives with wife May, 84, in West Boldon, tops up his martial arts training with weekly sessions at the gym. Cristobal, who originally hails from Southern Spain, said: “All the training keeps me strong. I do circuit training, running, press-ups and weights.

“A lot of the young men at the gym say they can’t do what I do.”

Cristobal was born in 1919 and fought against Francisco Franco’s fascists in the 1930’s civil war.

After the fall of the Second Spanish Republic he fled to Sierra Leone and in 1941 he joined a crew on a coal barge that was headed to North Shields.

Unable to return to Spain, he joined the British Merchant Navy to help fight against Hitler’s Nazis in the Second World War.

Cristobal is no stranger to physical activity having boxed as a youngster.

He said: “When I came over I was amateur boxing but tae kwon do is more self-defence.”

Last year in Seaburn, Cristobal put on a show of breaking boards at the Great Northern International Festival of Martial Arts (Marfest) raising money for Cancer Research UK.

Cristobal teaches tae kwon do classes at Washington Leisure and Wellness Centre on Wednesdays, from 7pm to 8.30pm, and Sundays, from 10am to 11.30am.

For more information, phone 219 3400.