FORMER solider Karl Mowatt says he was lucky to be shot in Afghanistan.
The bullet from a Taliban gunman’s weapon lodged in his kidney as he fought with the Parachute Regiment in the Helmand Province.
After being badly wounded in the Taliban gun battle in May 2006, the former Para from Denby Dale underwent emergency surgery – and the doctors uncovered a potentially fatal cancer.
Doctors told the 28-year-old that the stage four kidney tumour had not been discovered, he would have been dead in his early thirties.
Now, after months of treatment first to his war wounds, followed by radiotherapy for his cancer, the soldier is still fighting.
Astonishing doctors, on Saturday he will compete in a kickboxing bout in the Closed Combat Arena Championships for the Northern middleweight title.
He said: “I joined the Army at 15 years and nine months.
“I always wanted to be in the Army. My dad was a wagon driver and when I was in Ireland with him I saw some of the Paras and I just wanted to be part of it.
“I signed up as soon as I could.
“I joined the former Duke of Wellingtons Regiment and later became a Para.
“ I did numerous tours, including Kosovo and several times in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It was on one of the tours in Afghanistan that I was in action near Sangin and I was shot in the groin, but the bullet lodged in my kidney.
“I lost four pints of blood and I flatlined, so technically I died.
“The treatment took place in Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham for surgery and it was there they found the cancer.
“It was a weird feeling, to be that unlucky but it probably saved my life.
“For the injuries I had they were the best surgeons for the job.
“It was a strange situation because although I’d been diagnosed with cancer they had to repair my body before they could treat the cancer.
“I waited nine months for the injuries to heal while they monitored me.”
After his treatment, Karl returned to Huddersfield, but suffered the effects of Post Traumatic War Disorder and depression.
A chance encounter with Bob Sykes however was to change his life for the better.
The 7th Dan chief instructor at Colne Valley Black Belt Academy had taught martial arts to Karl from the ages of seven to 15 and offered to help him get back to training and tackle his weight, which had ballooned to 16 stones.
Karl said: “My family and the people here have helped me so much.
“Not just Bob but Niko Gjoka who has helped me get in shape, also Natalie Robinson at the academy and Lance Lewis, a former World Kickboxing Champion who has been a great help.
“I still have to have regular checks but three months ago I was able to walk in here with a big smile on my face and tell everyone I’d had the all clear.”
Now Karl is preparing for his clash with Johnny Watt of Hartlepool at the Sikh Leisure Centre in Huddersfield and is working toward an NVQ in martial arts instruction.
Bob, who is also returning to the ring, said: “A kickboxing bout is one thing, but Karl has been in situations with people shooting at him.
“Compared to that Saturday will be a pillow fight in a bouncy castle.”
No stranger to a big fight, Karl added: “It’s great to be focusing on something like this.
“I can’t wait.”
You can support Karl at the leisure centre on Saturday, doors open at 5.30pm for a 6.30pm start and 9pm finish.
Tickets available at Colne or Holme Valley Black Belt Academies or on 844386 or 07766942783