World champion Michael Dicks, who has just won his first fight in the Muay Thai Premier League, left school with no qualifications after being expelled, but turned his life around after taking up the sport as a teenager.
Now, he is a household name in Thailand and is about to gain international television exposure across the US and Canada, after ESPN bought the rights to show the popular league in North America.
Yesterday, cameraman Martin Buzora, who is filming the documentary for Warrior Caste Productions, arrived in Darlington to film Mr Dicks going about his everyday training regime.
Sights set to be featured on the documentary are Middlesbrough Football Club’s Riverside Stadium, where Mr Dicks is making an appearence today; Darlington Boxing and Martial Arts Academy, where Mr Dicks trains and works; and South Park, which is on the route of Mr Dicks’ training runs.
The film, which will be shown all over North America, will also feature Mr Dicks’ trainer, Paul Hamilton, who runs the gym and discovered Mr Dicks.
As well as competing internationally, Mr Dicks also trains children and adults at the gym.
Mr Dicks, who has racked up 47 wins and 34 knock-outs in 57 fights, told The Northern Echo he took up boxing while he was at pupil referral unit McMullen House, after they visited the boxing gym for PE lessons in his final year.
“I do find the attention a bit strange,” he said. “I’m just a lad from a small town in England.
Boxing has changed my life.
“It has got me around the world. I am very grateful to Paul and the gym for what boxing has given me.”
Mr Dicks won his first Muay Thai fight, against Brazilian Leo Monteiro in Los Angeles, California, last month. He is set to fight Netherlands fighter Mohamed Khamal in his next match in November.
Mr Hamilton said: “Michael had quite a difficult time, but now he has become one of the most famous Thai boxers to have come from outside of Thailand. He is a superstar over there.
“It is a great story and he’s worked so hard to achieve what he’s got so far.
“This documentary is great for Michael, but it’s also great for Darlington. Thai boxing is huge outside the UK. It will really put us on the map.
“What makes Michael special is that he’s on a mission to be someone and he wants to be the best.”
Mr Buzora said: “Michael’s story just captured us right away as a story which needed to be told.
It is the sort of thing Hollywood movies are made of.
“It is better than anything you could make up. He is a very special guy.”