MBE for Newham champ whose karate got kids off the street
- Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson
A world karate champ who has been awarded by the Queen dropped her MBE letter to the floor with shock when she read it.
Molly Samuel-Leport has been recognised for her services to the sport after winning the title seven times over and teaching karate to children in Newham.
She grew up in Forest Gate and will visit St James’ Palace to collect her honour later in the New Year.
She said: “When I first read it I could not believe it. I dropped it on the floor with shock half way through.
“It’s a great honour to the community, myself, my family and to all the kids I taught. We won the best millennium sports club in 2000.”
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When Molly, 53, came to retire from her club in Newham leisure centre parents begged her to stay and teach their children.
“I stayed and taught them, created exams and assessed kids. It was to keep kids off the streets. Some of them are adults now and they bring their own kids.
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“Karate gives people discipline, focus and the ability to believe in themselves that they can achieve.
“A lot of those I taught say it stopped them going off the rails.”
Molly was first coaxed into trying the sport as part of a family dare.
She was invited to a karate fundraiser and an instructor persuaded her to try the beginners’ class.
That was 34 years ago and the instructor is now her husband.
From then on she was picked for national squads continuously and first became champion at home and abroad in 1982.
“I ended up as the first womens’ national coach. It was sexist back then so there had never been one before, but I’ve got a bit of a mouth so made sure women were included.”
Now she teaches IT to people who are homeless while running as Conservative parliamentary candidate for Walthamstow.
But that’s not to say she’s hung up her gi.
“I still train three to four times a week. I find it focuses you and it’s rewarding in terms of weight loss. If you do it twice a week you’d definitely feel the affects.”