NINE-year-old kickboxer Leon Moss could not compete — because his glasses were holding him back.
The first time he stepped into the ring for a competitive bout, the youngster took off his glasses and realised he could not see well enough to fight.
But Leon, who had been wearing specs since he was three, is now a kickboxing champion, after he became one of the youngest customers at his opticians to be fitted with contact lenses.
Kevin Juste, manager of the Specsavers shop in Middlebrook Retail Park, said: “It's fairly rare to fit children who are so young with contact lenses but with an upcoming kickboxing tournament and such a high prescription, we really wanted to help.”
Leon’s grandmother, Christine Evans, aged 67, said the lenses have done wonders for her grandson’s confidence.
Mrs Evans, from Cotswald Drive in Horwich, said: “Leon absolutely loves kickboxing but as soon as he stepped in to the ring for the first time without his glasses he said, ‘Nana I can’t do this properly’.
“We had tried everything including prescription swimming goggles but it just wasn’t practical and was really affecting Leon’s confidence.”
It was during a routine visit to the opticians when Leon asked about being fitted with contact lenses that he could wear in the ring.
Staff at the opticians prescribed the new lenses and gave him some training in how to use them.
Just a week later, Leon, who attends Lord Street Primary School in Horwich, visited the store to thank staff, and to show off his winner’s belt.
Mrs Evans added: “Leon only wears the lenses for sport but the result has been incredible. He’s enjoying every minute in the ring and is an absolute star.
“We’re already running out of space for all his trophies. Hopefully it's given him some extra confidence and will help him win further fights.”