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COMEBACK KARATE KID; Josh beat burns to fight for world title.

Byline: ROD CHAYTOR

A BADLY-burned schoolboy who was told he would never take part in sport has lifted bronze for Britain at the World Karate Championships.

The family of Josh Lewis, now 14, were warned a decade ago he would never even be able to ride a bike after he suffered horrific injuries in an arson attack which killed his seven-year-old sister, Heather.

But this week the plucky teenager, who received 45% burns, stunned doctors when he represented Great Britain at the WKA World Karate Championships in Huelva, Spain, and won a medal.

On February 27, 1999, three men set fire to the Lewis's home in Stapenhill, Staffs. They were later jailed for manslaughter and arson.

Josh spent 10 days on life support, three weeks in intensive care and 12 weeks at Queen's Medical Centre University Hospital in Nottingham. He had skin grafts to his arms, legs and feet and still needs treatment every year.

Yesterday he recalled how he was told he would never play sports like other boys.

He said: "It was horrible to think I would never play football or run. But when they gave me the news it just made me more determined to do it and to be the best."

The karate kid took up martial arts at the age of six after being bullied because of his scars. He is now a second dan black belt.

He said: "It feels great to have won a medal. I'm dedicating it to my sister, Heather."

Josh still lives in Stapenhill with mum Debbie, dad Lionel, brother Andy, 22, and sisters Zoe, 27, and Britney, nine. Proud Debbie said: "Doctors said the burns would limit movement in his legs but Josh has proved them all wrong."

Chop to it

KARATE was invented on the Japanese Ryukyu Islands in 1429 after the government banned the use of weapons. The word karate translates as "empty hand".

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CHAMP Bandaged Josh, four, and gutted home
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 6, 2009
Words:326
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