AT the tender age of 15, martial arts expert Stephen Simmons-Clancy already packs quite a punch.

And now the Barrhead schoolboy is on top of the world, after battling his way to a global honour.

Stephen flew 3,500 miles to Calgary, in western Canada, earlier this month to win top prize in the under-16 category of the World Boxing Council (WBC) Muay Thai Youth Championships.

Barrhead High pupil Stephen Simmons-Clancy with his WBC gold medalStephen celebrates his success at the WBC Muay Thai Youth World Championships

Muay Thai is a form of boxing that is particularly popular in Thailand.

Barrhead High pupil Stephen defeated his Mexican opponent in the final at the Winsport Arena on August 14, having already recorded victory over the Canadian number one and local favourite on his way to the gold medal showdown.

The win was just reward for all of the hard work he has put in over the last few years.

Once lessons at school are over for the day, Stephen travels 60 miles to a Mixed Martial Arts gym in Bathgate, West Lothian, returning late at night.

Barrhead High pupil Stephen Simmons-Clancy with his WBC gold medalMembers of Barrhead Community Muay Thai Boxing Club with George Mann

He also goes there to train on Sundays.

And it is that impressive level of dedication and work ethic which provides hope he can become a professional fighter and go on to compete in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) – the world’s biggest organisation for martial arts.

Stephen, who has five brothers and one sister, is also ‘keeping it in the family,’ as his 19-year-old sibling Sean has two mixed martial arts titles.

Their proud mum Lynne, 38, told the Barrhead News: “Stephen is currently Scotland number one in his under-16 age group in Jujitsu. He also does wrestling.

“Every day after school, he travels to the Higher Level MMA gym, in Bathgate, which can involve two trains and a bus.

Barrhead High pupil Stephen Simmons-Clancy with his WBC gold medalEarly success has Stephen dreaming of a career in the Ultimate Fighting Championship

“Stephen has waited so long for this success and worked so hard. He is really dedicated and has little time for a social life but he is beginning to see the rewards for his hard work.”

While he was off school during the summer holidays, Stephen even slept overnight at the Bathgate gym so he could do morning and afternoon sessions each day.

Despite the heavy programme, he has not ignored his studies and catches up on his homework while travelling to and from the West Lothian town.

Stephen, who doesn’t turn 16 until November, plans to sit his Highers next year, having already passed his National 5 exams.

He flew from Glasgow to Toronto on August 10 and then on to Calgary after a 16-hour wait to take part in the World Youth Championships.

His mum also paid tribute to members of the local business community who have supported Stephen financially over the past two years.

They include Victorious Tattoos, Reilly Reinforcements Ltd, clothing firm No Pretty City, CP Roofing Solutions, Saltire Carpeting, Maple Joiners, Derek Nicoll, Railway Cottage Nursery, The Bankhouse (Paisley) and Le Dance Studio.

Lynne added: “The local community have been amazing and have really pulled together to help.

“Our family are all from Barrhead and Stephen is proud to represent his home town.

“Stephen would not be at this level today without their support. However, he is always looking for fresh sponsors.”

Anyone who would like to sponsor Stephen should get in touch via social media at www.facebook.com/sean.clancy.520.

Meanwhile, Barrhead welcomed another Muay Thai world champion as George Mann returned to his roots to put local fighters through their paces.

George took time out from his busy schedule to stage a skills class at his former training venue, the Barrhead Foundry, during a trip home from Australia.

It was a chance for him to ‘pay it back’ to Vinnie McWilliams, who leads the Barrhead Community Muay Thai Boxing Club.

Barrhead High pupil Stephen Simmons-Clancy with his WBC gold medalGeorge (left) caught up with Vinnie McWilliams at the Barrhead Foundry

George said: “Vinnie had a huge part in my development as a fighter.

“Thanks to him, I was able to step up to fight and win the Scottish title, British title and European title.

“Flash forward many years later, I was able to go back to teach, train and chat with his new team in the same place I learned.

“Never forget those that help you get where you are today.”

Vinnie said it was a pleasure to welcome George home to Barrhead.

He added: “All of the students were excited to train with George because of what he has achieved and you could see they were a bit starstruck.

“It was a fantastic experience for all involved to be able to get a fighter of George’s level to come down and share his knowledge with a community club.”

Kirsty MacIntosh, of East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure, which hosts the Barrhead Community Muay Thai Boxing Club, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome George along to the Barrhead Foundry.

“It’s great to see sportspeople coming back to their roots after doing so well on the world stage.”

Club members meet at the Barrhead Foundry from 8pm until 9.30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays and from 6pm until 7pm on Fridays.

Anyone who is interested in joining is welcome to go along at these times.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/bcmtbc.