After beating a dreadful diagnosis of leukaemia, Carl Ikeme, a former goalie for the Wolves, is now engaged in a new war as a champion mixed martial arts fighter.
In 2017, the 36-year-old Molineux champion was issued the diagnosis of leukaemia, and after enduring a period of taxing treatment that lasted for 13 months, he was informed that he was in full remission from the disease.
His football career was cut short when he was diagnosed with the disease, but after taking up Brazilian jiu-jitsu at a gym in Sutton Coldfield, he went on to win the British open age championship and earn a bronze medal in the European Championships.
Ikeme, who worked his way up at Wolves and made over 200 appearances for the club in league and cup play, says he picked up jiu-jitsu by accident after discovering a Gracie Barra club in his neighbourhood.
“I was just filling up my car at a petrol station near home and saw a sign for Gracie Barra, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu academy in Sutton Coldfield,” he told the Express & Star.
“I had always wanted to try that discipline, so I signed up for a taster session.
“I was in really good shape at the time, it was around when I had done the 100-mile Velo cycle ride for charity.“But I went along to the class, and I remember being absolutely gassed after a three-minute round. My legs were cramping, my back was in bits, and I suddenly realised that you don’t really know anything about fighting until you actually do it!
“Competition really wasn’t in my mind at the start.
“I just wanted to learn a new art, and I found it all a really humbling experience to be honest.
“And it’s about realising that nothing else matters when you are on the mat as it’s just two people concentrating on trying to get the better out of each other.”