TODAY the Mercury turns the sporting spotlight on two of Bridgwater’s most promising fighters.

Here are Southern Area kickboxing title holder Chris James, and professional cage fighter Mark Godbeer’s success stories: Bridgwater Mercury: kicboxer CHRIS James retained the Southern Area title winning in every round in Dorchester last month (August).

Originally from Cannington, Chris has been kickboxing since the age of 17 after his dad Nick got him into the sport.

Now aged 23, he has turned professional since he began training under Arthur Meek at the Eastover Youth Centre.

Chris first won the title, which covers the whole of the south from the East Midlands to Kent, in October last year.

He lost his defence of the title in May this year on a home show and wanted a re-match against his opponent, but was denied as he had dropped to a different weight.

Instead Chris was pitted against a different fighter in Dorchester and regained his belt.

He said: “It went to points but I won every round. When I lost last time I had to work on a few things and I put that into this fight.”

Both Chris and his opponent ended up in Accident and Emergency after the fight after a clash of heads, denying the Bridgwater-based fighter a bout at the end of September.

Instead, he has carried on his intense training in a bid to force his way into contention for the English title – but first he has a non-title fight next month in Essex.

Chris added: “I would like to go as far as I can in the sport – the British title is the ultimate goal but any further would be great.

“My trainer Arthur has really turned it around for me, I thought I knew it all before I met him, but he has helped get me into shape and I owe him a lot.”

Bridgwater Mercury: cage fighter MARK Godbeer has hailed his army of Bridgwater fans for their passionate support to help him secure his second professional win.

The 25-year-old saw off Swansea-based cage fighter Sam Hooker in Wells at the end of August for his second win in the B-Class Pro Rules category.

He said: “It was a really good fight, the guy was big but not as tall as me, and in the first round he picked me up and slammed me down three or four times.

“I couldn’t compete with his strength. But I waited for him to wear himself out and landed a few good shots and went from there.”

Going into the contest, Mark said he felt really nervous but once he arrived at the venue and saw the throngs of local supporters he soon settled.

“They bought all the fighters in a line and introduced them to the crowd, and there was such a big cheer when my name was read out it was such a boost for the morale”, he added.

Mark believes he is getting into cage fighting at the right time as the sport’s popularity grows both on a local and global level.

He is hoping to be able to get out of the building trade one day soon and devote himself to competing full-time.

He went on: “I started training the day after my 25th birthday thinking if I didn’t start then, I never would.

“It’s going well so far, I’ve got another fight in two weeks and I have confidence in my ability, and my trainer Arthur Meek gives me confidence.

“Cage fighters get a lot of recognition and its definitely getting more popular in Bridgwater.”

TRAINER Arthur Meek believes his two protégés can go far in their respective sports.

He said: “I am delighted for Chris – he lost his title defence on a home show and it wasn’t a good performance but this time he was a much better fighter.

“Mark has got a good future ahead of him in the sport, he has two wins in two fights and is showing a lot of potential.”