Kickboxer Jess has inspired 7,000 kids - now she's an award-winner

Female kickboxing champion Jess Roper has won an award among Olympians and Paralympians.

The 29-year-old from Pett, who trains at Up-Grade Martial Arts in Bexhill, won the 2022 ‘Best Social Media Activity Award’ at the annual Sports for Schools conference in Nottingham.

Roper, who began kickboxing 10 years ago and has been the 2X WRSA (World Ring Sport Association) under 53.5kg and the under 56kg English Kickboxing champion since 2019, began working with Sports for Schools in November 2021. Since then she has inspired over 7000 children by sharing her story and the message of ‘Dream Big, Start Small, and Never Give Up’.

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Jess with her award

Some 83% of children do not do enough physical activity, while inactivity kills more people than smoking. Sports for Schools® is a social enterprise whose mission is to inspire children to be more physically active, resilient and to lead healthy lives by organising GB elite athlete visits to primary schools.

In the process Sports for Schools® has raised over £5,000,000 for primary schools to spend on increasing physical activity, inspiring over 2.4 million children. Even more impressively, schools never need to dip into their own budgets to pay for events.

Reflecting on her award, Roper explained: “I have been sharing consistently across social media to promote physical activity and sports which I passionately believe brings positivity, and to inspire future generations of champions by increasing their ambition and belief in themselves. I’m proud to be part of an organisation [Sports for Schools®] that is raising awareness of how physical activity increases academic performance."

Jess in action

Roper, a 2nd degree blackbelt kickboxer trains at Up-grade Martial Arts in Bexhill where she also runs classes and private sessions. She has a particular interest in promoting and improving women’s fitness, increasing self-esteem and teaching self-defence. Since becoming a champion and starting her own business Roper has decided to take a break from fighting to focus on another ambition of ‘speaking on stages globally’, and providing much needed services to help improve health, well-being and confidence.

Roper, the presenter of Champion’s Corner on Bexhill Radio, pushes forward with her public speaking practice ‘using the same dedication, determination, and discipline that I applied to my kickboxing’. Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, is ranked as the top fear by 75% of the population, above even the fear of death. So speaking publicly provides her with the opportunity to continue to face her fears and accept new challenges “without being punched in the face” as she says.

“Sports for Schools works with the top athletes in the country,” says Chief Sportivater, Michael Ledzion, “so winning this award against such competition is a terrific testament to Jess’ dedication and passion for our mission. We look forward to working with all the schools in Sussex and Kent who’d like a visit from Jess or one of the other extraordinary athletes who work at Sports for Schools.”

For more information on Sports for Schools, visit www.sportsforschools.org.

... and with one of her titles