AN inspirational Dallam teen has won a prestigious sports award – despite once being laughed at for not being good at sports as his motor skills were delayed.

Khovan Hussein, who has autism, ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome, received the Rotary Clubs National Young Citizen Sports Hero Award for 2022.

He turned his ‘obsession’ with WWE into a passion for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

He was nominated by the head teacher at the specialist education school he attends in Newton-le-Willows called Lakeside School.

Warrington Guardian: Khovan was interviewed by BBC presenter Ellie Crisell Khovan was interviewed by BBC presenter Ellie Crisell

Khovan was diagnosed with autism at the age of two and ADHD aged six so was a pupil at a special needs nursery and then went on to a special needs unit for primary school.

During this time, children used to laugh at Khovan as they thought he wasn’t very good at sports – which was due to his motor skills – which used to ‘really upset’ him.

When he moved up to high school he was struggling a lot due to his needs so his mum Shireen decided to pull him out and home school him for a year.

Shireen said: “During that year I had him reassessed by speech therapy, a private occupational therapist as it was difficult to get a full profile assessment from the NHS occupational therapist at the time and an educational psychologist.

Warrington Guardian: Proud Khovan with his awardProud Khovan with his award

“Once I received all their assessment reports it was very clear that Khovan needed a school that could offer more specialised support.

“I applied for a position for him at Wargrave House School in Newton-le-Willows and our local authority agreed it would be a good suit for Khovan’s needs.

“He started there when he was 13 or 14 at the time.”

As he became a teenager, Khovan became ‘obsessed’ with WWE – he ‘lived and breathed’ the sport.

And according to Shireen, it ‘took over his life’.

Warrington Guardian: Khovan with BBC presenter Ellie Crisell Khovan with BBC presenter Ellie Crisell

“It’s common for autistic people to have restricted interests and it can be useful, but it can sometimes, like in Khovan’s case at the time, become so intense that it’s all they think and talk about,” Shireen added.

When Khovan was 15, Shireen joined a Brazillian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) class and realised how similar it was to wrestling so decided to see if he would try the lesson out.

Despite not being sure how Khovan would cope as he struggles ‘tremendously’ in new and loud environments and with meeting new people, he fell in love with the sport.

His confidence slowly started to grow and then he then started to work with other students, talking to his coach and even asked Shireen if he could try a competition.

In his first competition, he got a bronze medal which gave him a ‘huge’ confidence boost.

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Khovan, who wears ear defenders in the competitions to help with sensory element, then began to complete more and stated winning gold medals.

Shireen said: “He was very determined in his BJJ and through that devolved self-awareness - that to be a good BJJ athlete you need to be healthy and take care of your body.

“That helped Khovan to learn that personal hygiene was important and so was healthy eating and taking his medication for his high blood pressure - something I’d always struggled to get him to do.”

Khovan’s self-awareness continued to grow as well as his confidence which he realised was down to the sport and fitness he was partaking in.

Warrington Guardian:

This then led to him starting to encourage others at his school and college to join him in fitness and martial art sessions with the hope that it would help them like it did with him.

Because of this, Khovan managed to secure a one-hour a week work experience placement at a gym nearby to his college.

He works as an assistant coach to teach some of the other students in his college.

As well as this, once a year for the past couple of years he has done solo fitness challenges to raise money for charity.

Exercising also helps with Khovan’s tics after he was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome at aged 17.

Reflecting on Khovan’s progress, Shireen said: “The younger years of Khovan, I spent being hit, kicked, bit, screamed at and he would run off whenever I took him out.

“Without sounding horrible it was an extremely difficult time of my life.

“He slept three to four hours a night at most as a toddler and young child.

“He would wake up and if I hadn’t heard him on time he would have turned the house upside down, pour food everywhere, rip wall paper, draw all over everything - I ended up sleeping on the hallway floor downstairs to make sure I heard him when he woke in the night.

“To see him now, and how much he has grown as a person is just phenomenal - he is amazing!

“I am so, so proud of him. Words cannot express.”

Khovan attended the Rotary Clubs awards ceremony at the Birmingham Natural Exhibition Centre with his mum, sister, and head teacher and class teacher.

The awards were opened by Ellie Crisell who also presented the award to Khovan and interviewed him.

Khovan added: “I am very happy and proud of myself that I won.

“It was an experience like no other. I really hope to continue to get others into sport no matter what their ability, background or age.

“I have set up a TikTok page and Instagram page to try and promote fitness.” 

To follow Khovan on TikTok search @khovanh and to find him on Instagram search @khovanhn