Black Belt School of Excellence
Established 1994

Head Coach - Wolf Gym : Neil Holden

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Neil Holden


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Head Coach :
Neil Holden

Trainer of
Muay-Thai, Kickboxing
and -M.M.A. Champions

Certified Muaythai
( Thai-Kickboxing )
by Grand Master Sken
( Thailand )

Black Belt Graded
by Master Azuma
( Japan )

W.K.A. Registered
7th Degree Black Belt

Training in the Martial Arts
+ 38 years.

Professional Instructor
+ 28 Years.



The teacher and the student.

Grand Master Sken


Neil Holden

the rank of Instructor.


Neil Holden.

Founder - Wolf-Gym / Warrington Kickboxing Studio :
A Martial Arts Academy that has over 26 years produced several National,
two European and two World Amateur Champions!

Muaythai ( Thai-Kickboxing ) :
( including Muay Boran Techniques - Ancient style Thai martial arts system )
Trainer of Champions,
Certified Instructor ( 1992 ) by Grand Master Sken
( Thailand )

Kickboxing ( Japanese 'K-1 style' Kickboxing ) :
Black Belt ( 7th Dan ), Shihan / Master Grade.
Certified by
The .W.K.A...World Kickboxing Association

Kudo: ( Japanese M.M.A. system ) :
Black Belt ( 2nd Dan ), Nidan Grade.
Certified by Grand Master Takashi Azuma
( Japan ).


Born in the historical city of Chester, as a child Neil was always very talented at the various sporting activities that he participated in at school such as football, distance runnings and athletics.

When he was ten,
Neil began training at the Bolton Martial Arts Centre, initially learning Japanese Ju-Jitsu and Kickboxing.

Neil then moved onto Thai-Kickboxing, with his first Muaythai session being taught by one of Master Sken's senior Instructors, Phil Nurse, at a small club in the town of Westhoughton, and it was here that his many years with Master Sken's the Sitnarong Camp began.

( Pict : Neil 1992, ripped at 6ft 4in and just 75kgs with 5% bodyfat ).


Since those early days Neil has dedicated his adult life to the martial arts and has for over 30 years!

When Neil was 18 the opportunity arose for him to train full-time as an Assistant Instructor at Master Sken's headquarters, that at this time was based in Bolton. The Senior Instructor and propreitor of this gym was Sandy Holt a European Champion and a very successful trainer himself.

left home and spent just over a year as a 'live in' student, ( what is known in Japan as an uchi-deshi ), staying at the Bolton gym in a very basic dormatory type bedsit area which enabled him, to train in the mornings, afternoons and evenings.

During this time Neil's training and sparring partner was his good friend Steve Reilly, who later went on to become a European Champion.

Steve also opened his own school and is now the and Head Coach of the Horwich Kickboxing Studio

( Pict : Steve Reilly, European Champion )

Master Sken's syllabus included traditional Martial Arts methods from Ling-Lom style Muay-Boran for Self-Defence, as well as teaching the Combat-Sport side, known as Muaythai.

was recently popularised by the martial arts hit movie

( Pict : Neil performing a Muay-Boran Jumping Side Kick, 1991 )


Muay-Boran has many distinct regional styles that have evolved over time. Muay Thasao, a style from Northern Thailand has an emphasis on speed and kicking. It is also known as "Ling-Lom" which means Windy Monkey.

As Master Sken was born in the North of Thailand, Neil was taught techniques from "Ling-Lom" style Muay-Boran which were part of the Master Sken's Sitnarong syllabus.

At many Sitnarong Muaythai demonstrations Neil would often partner up with one of Master Sken's senior Instructors ( Kru-Yai ) Phil Nurse to perform the ancient Muay-Boran techniques such as "Tai Khao Phra Sumeru" - running up your opponents traditional wide martial arts stance, ( horse stance ) leaping onto their shoulders, wrapping your legs around their neck and finishing them off with downward elbow strikes to the top of the skull!

Training as an Assisant-Instructor under Master Sken, Neil was taught first hand, how to prepare fighters for competitions, as well as the skills required to be a cornerman.

( Pict Above : Grand Master Sken and
Neil Holden, corner team for Nigel Ashton -
W.K.A. Northwest Area Welterweight Champion )


After Neil passed his senior student rank, Master Sken began training Holden at his newly relocated headquarters in Stockport.

Training him specifically to be an Instructor, and having him assist at two of his Schools,
( Irlam and Eccles ), in Manchester.

Neil passed Master Sken's Instructor Grade and received his Instructor insignia, ( the Red Band ), on the 10th October 1992 after teaching as an assistant for almost 2 years.

Neil then applied for a government sponsored scheme to help small businesses start up called the 'Enterprise Allowance' and once he was accepted onto the scheme, ( 1992 ), he started his full-time career as a registered professional martial arts Instructor.

( Picture: Neil with trainer Phil Nurse ).


Initially Neil was teaching during the daytime, One-to-One personal training sessions at the BTBC gym in Bolton and also at HnH gym in Farnworth.

Then in the evenings he would travel to the surrounding towns and teach group classes at his network of schools.


( Picture: Neil's 1st Business Card, yr - 1992. )

It took several years of sacrifice and dedication but eventually the
Thai-Kickboxing ( Muay-Thai / Muay-Boran ) classes that Neil ran built up a considerable following of members, with the largest attended classes at the Warrington School, which he opened in 1992. This was based in Bewsey and had 3 classes a week.

At this time Neil entered a team from his various schools into an Amateur level event in Leigh. Incredibly, all ten won their debut bouts! This lead onto some of his students then competing more regular and eventually progressing onto Professional rules, ( without padding ), and more successes followed.

In 1994 Neil gained his first two Champions. One under Muay-Thai Rules and the other under K-1 rules.

Rhys Edwards, who was renown for winning his fights by stoppage, defeated the highly respected Simon Chu by T.K.O. and become a Muay-Thai Champion ( S.I.M.T.A. ).


Dave Rathbone defeated another highly regarded fighter, called Peter Davis by first round K.O. to become a W.K.A. Kickboxing Champion ( K1 Rules ).

Photo : Grand Master Sken raises the hand of the new Champion - Rhys Edwards!



It was a great start to Neil's career as a professional martial arts Instructor and there were soon more of his students that would capture Championships under his guidance.


Neil Holden,

Phil Nurse


Mark Matthews

Here, Matthew's had just won his first title under Pro Rules. Mark went on to win a total of 5 Pro. titles while training under Neil Holden.




Peter Crooke, ( World Champ )
Mark Matthews ( baby Dominique )
Kirkwood Walker ( World Champ )
Promoter Paul Hennesey
with title belts and a cheque
for £ 1'000.00


A proud moment for Neil Holden as a trainer, when Mark Matthews who was the British Ranked #2 at Light-Welterweight, moved up a division and challenged the British Ranked #1 Welterweight, Keiren Keddle, for the I.S.K.A. British & Commonwealth Muaythai Title.

Mark stopped his opponent in round 4, in what was at the time one of the most eagerly awaited contests on the U.K. scene.

Holden trained Mark for 12 weeks for this contest, and the victory was a great reflection on the level of coaching at the Wolf-Gym.

A reflection of how significant a win this was, is shown by the fact that Keddle followed this bout with a tremendous win of his own, defeating the W.M.C. World Muaythai Champion Lee Chesters for the W.A.K.O. Pro. World Welterweight Muaythai title.

Grand Master Sken - the teacher of teachers.

Neil is very proud to have trained under and be Instructor Certified by one of the Worlds most dynamic instructors, Grand Master Sken Kaewpadung.

Reneown as an International teacher of Thai martial arts, that has trained many top level coaches and several
European and World Champions!

( Pict : Grand Master Sken)


On arriving in the U.K. from Thailand, Grand Master Sken initially concentrated on training top level Muaythai fighters. He trained World Champions Humphrey Harrison and Oliver Harrison, European Champions Sandy Holt and Phil Nurse, and several British Champions including Carl Thompson.

( Pict : Master Sken's team of Champions )

All of which, following successes in Muaythai, then progressed onto Professional Boxing with Carl Thompson eventually becoming W.B.O. World Cruiserweight Champion, and Oliver Harrison becoming one of the U.K.'s leading Boxing Coaches.

Having achieved his goal of proving himself as a'Trainer of Champions', Grand Master Sken switched his aims from producing Muaythai Champions to instead producing Instructors in both Muay-Boran as well as Muaythai for his expanding association S.I.M.T.A. ( Sitnarong International Muay Thai Association ). Teaching not only the traditional and spectacular techniques rarely used in the ring, ( jumping kicks / flying elbows etc ) but self-defence methods too, where one not only counters an attack but takes the opponent to the floor and follow this up with finishing strikes. This was Ling-Lom style Muay-Boran.

Master Sken's Instructors could then spread the knowledge of Muay-Thai as a Sport and Muay-Boran as a Martial arts system for people to participate in, not just for the ring-sport applications, but also as a system of self-defence and personal fitness.

This produced a generation of Instructors, along with Neil Holden, that are highly regarded on the circuit such as Colin Heron, Darren Phillips, Steve Reilly, Howard Huges, John Craig, Richard Lewis, David Eckersley, and Johnny Steele all of who'm continued the cycle and went on to produce Instructors and Champions of their own!

( Pict : Grand Master Sken with Kay and Instructors Phil Nurse, Howard Hughes, James Clayton and Neil Holden)

Some of these trainers specifically operate within the sport of Muaythai, while others have diversified into other combat sports such as 'K-1' style Kickboxing and 'M.M.A.' mixed martial arts. All of which is a credit to Grand Master Skens's teaching.

Master Sken's early business Card :

Master Sken Muay-Thai

Such arts teach Modesty, Discpline and Respect for others

( Sken Kaewpadung )

Master of Muay-Thai ( Kick Boxing ) Thai Weapons.

Founder of the
British Association of Thai Martial Arts.

International Referee and Judge.
Tae Kwon Do Master
( 5th Dan Black Belt )



Warrington Kickboxing Studio - Established 1994:

Most Martial Art Schools are merely twice weekly classes held in hired rooms. In 1994, after many years of sacrifice and dedication, Neil completed his lifelong ambition and setup his own full-time martial arts centre at the age of 22

This Amateur sports club is open to the community seven days a week and runs excellent programs for Children aged 6 onwards and Teenagers-Only classes as well as seperate programs for Adults. Helping members improve their self-confidence, fitness (
and weight loss ), giving them an activity to pursue with regular training goals like training towards their Black Belt or competing in the sport of Amateur Kickboxing.

Over the years the Warrington Kickboxing Studio has raised thousands of pounds for various causes and charities, most recently with the the Wolf-Gym supporting Cancer Research U.K. with a series of three events known as Samurai-Challenge..

The logo used for
Warrington Kickboxing Studio is the Wolf and the school is often refered to as the Wolf Gym. ( Japanese name = Okami-Dojo or Thai name = Kai Mapa ).

( Many schools like to use a mascot, such as Scorpions Gym in Newcastle, Golden Cobra in Manchester, and Tigers Gym from Leeds ).


In 2001 Neil took two of his leading fighters to compete in Japan, Mark Matthews ( Inter-Continental Champion : W.P.K.L. )


Rhys Edwards
( British Champion : W.A.K.O. Pro. ).

( Pict left : Mark and Rhys at the H.Q. of
the All Japanese Kickboxing Federation)


It was here that the Wolf-Gym was given its Japanese name. Rhys Edwards who was facing the Japanese Welterweight Champion, was introduced to the ring as, "representing England... and fighting out of.... the OKAMI DOJO !!!"
( which is the Japanese translation for 'Wolf Gym' ).

The Japan experience had a tremendous influence upon Neil, his system of teaching, and the way of running the Wolf Gym as a martial arts school.

Upon his return to England, Neil completely revised his coaching syllabus,

The Wolf Gym's Kickboxing syllabus soon proved to be a success, and now consistantly produces Black Belts and Champions of the highest standards.

( Pict Above : Neil working Matthews on the Pads
at the H.Q. of the Japanese Kickboxing Federation)


Further training.

Neil has continued training in the martial arts throughout his career, always seeking to update and expand his knowledge further.

Currently a 7th Degree Black Belt, Neil received his Masters Degree in 2012 from the W.K.A. World Kickboxing Association after completing over 20 years as a Full-time Professional Instructor.

As well qualifications to teach Thai-Kickboxing ( Muaythai ) and Japanese Kickboxing ( K-1 ). Holden is also a certified Combatives ( Self-Defence ) Instructor, registered with the British Combat Association.

Neil also trains people for the combat-sport of Mixed-Martial Arts ( M.M.A. ) as he also holds a Black Belt ( 2nd Dan ) in the Japanese Mixed-Martial-Arts system of KUDO from Grand Master Takashi Azuma ( Japan ). KUDO combines 'modified' Japanese Kickboxing and 'modified' Judo methods.

Neil runs a once-weekly 'Combat class' specifically focusing on KUDO M.M.A. training as a supplement to the Kickboxing classes at the Wolf Gym. From this class three students have also passed their KUDO Black Belts under direct examination from Grand Master Azuma. Two members also from the KUDO M.M.A. programe have, Grant Sharples and Jamie Hayes have also gone on to win M.M.A. Championship Title Belts.

Picture :

Grand Master Takashi Azuma
9th Dan -
Daido Juku.

Neil Holden
7th Dan -
Okami Dojo.

Neil has built up a very professional team of Instructors, that have to date trained over
50 Black belts, along with several National Champions, two European and two World Amateur Kickboxing Champions.

Kickboxers from the Wolf Gym have also proudly represented their country at international level on many occasions, in both Amateur and Professional
bouts against oposition from...

----------------------------------------Scotland, --Ireland, --Wales,
------------------ -------
France, --Belgium, --Holland, --Italy, --Turkey

---------------------NewZealand, --United States of America --and Japan!

Neil is also an established promoter, and over the last two decades has raised many thousands of pounds for various charities and good causes.

In 2013 Neil became only the second U.K. promoter to ever promote an official K-1 event.

This was the 2013 'K-1 MAX England Grandprix',
K-1 being one of the biggest professional Kickboxing events in the world.

Working with various sanctioning bodies and promoters, Holden was asked to help re-organise the I.K.F. activities in Europe and from 2007 to 2009 Neil was the EUROPEAN DIRECTOR for the International Kickboxing Federation, sanctioning over 100 title bouts under 'K-1 Rules' and 'Muay-Thai Rules'.


Warrington Kickboxing Studio has been producing Champions since it was established in 1994, ( over 25 years ago ). Champions in both the Professional and Amateur divisons.

Training Professional Muay-Thai Champions :

The Wolf Gym has produced several champions in the Professional divisions on the U.K. Muay-Thai circuit over the years.

At one particular time, three fighters, while training under Neil Holden, actually held between them 12 Championship title belts!

These were Rhys Edwards, Mark Matthews and Darren Collins. An outstanding achievement for any trainer

Training World Champions :

Neil Holden has produced many Amateur Champions as well as Champions under Professional rules.

One particular stand-out being Graham Sayer who concluded his undefeated ring career by capturing the I.K.F. World Middleweight Title.

Graham also received the 2005 Warrington Sports Personality of the year in recognition of his achievements in the ring, ( 32 Amateur fights - undefeated, with 6 Title defences ).

Titles Held

Am. World Super-Middleweight

Am. World Middleweight Champion.

Am. European Middleweight Champion.

Am. British + Commonwealth Middleweight Champion.


Training M.M.A. Mixed Martial Arts Champions :

Kickboxing modified for the Cage, ( Cage-Kickboxing ) is also known as M.M.A.-Striking.

As a Striking-Coach, Neil Holden has also trained two Champion's that have won titles in the Octagon-Cage.

M.M.A. Middleweight Champion

Grant Sharples - Warrington


M.M.A. Welterweight Champion

Jamie Hayes - Warrington


From reading Neil's background, you can see clearly that he strives only for the highest of standards, wether in his own training over the last 30 years with the very best teachers, or in his own teaching during a professional career spanning more than 25 years.

His knowledge with regards to the Martial Arts / Combat sports and fitness training is second to none!

If you train personally with Neil, or train with any of his certified Instructors, you know you are receiving the very best in Martial Arts tuition.

Further reading : recommended...

( Click here to see Neil Holden's Certificates )

( Click here to see some Warrington Kickboxers in action! )