Young Citizen: World Karate champion Iesa, 11, battles diabetes

PUBLISHED: 13:40 08 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:14 08 August 2018

Iesa Saeed, 11, wins three medals at the Tang Soo Do world championships in North Carolina, USA. Photo: Sabah Saeed

Iesa Saeed, 11, wins three medals at the Tang Soo Do world championships in North Carolina, USA. Photo: Sabah Saeed


An 11-year-old karate champion who has scooped a slew of gold and silver medals while battling Type-1 diabetes is this week’s Young Citizen nominee.

Iesa Saeed, of Burrow Road, Chigwell, won two golds and a silver at the Tang Soo Do world championships in North Carolina last month.

“It was amazing, I was so happy,” he said.

“The hardest part was the sparring – I had to spar with seven people in seven rounds.”

Iesa began training aged six – inspired by watching the 1984 classic film Karate Kid – when he enrolled in Leyton Tang Soo Do club, which teaches the Korean karate-based martial art.

In order to make the world championships Iesa stepped up his training to four times a week and battled his way through regional, national and European competitions.

Commenting on his favourite part of training, he said: “My teacher [Mohammed Islam] has been helping me out telling me what to work on every time I go home.”

But Iesa’s training suffered a setback after he was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes three years ago.

He needs to inject himself with insulin five times a day to regulate his blood sugar levels.

“It completely hit us all for six,” said his mum Sabah, who has nominated him for the Young Citizen Award.

“It affects each part of his life and each part of our lives.”

Nevertheless, Iesa has excelled in his sport thanks to his immense self-motivation his mum says.

“I am so proud of him,” she said.

“He does it all on his own.”

His instructor Mohammed Islam praised Iesa’s attitude.

“He is a true example of a champion,” he said. 
“He was very humble and showed great sportmanship and that makes a better champion which earned him a lot of respect from the judges and others in the competition.”

Iesa is two belts away from a black belt and hopes to make the 2020 world championships and eventually become a grandmaster.

The Recorder/Redbridge Rotary Club Young Citizen Award is about celebrating the amazing young people in our borough.

It is run by the Recorder in conjunction with Redbridge Rotary Club, and sponsored by The Exchange shopping centre, Ilford, which provides each monthly winner with a £30 gift card.

The Young Citizen of the Year will be crowned at the Mayor’s Community Awards.

You can nominate any person who lives or works in Redbridge, as long as they are under 25, by emailing

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