Ashley Hardenberg (23) from Maitland Garden Village was raised by an unemployed, single mother. Today he is a national champion in kickboxing.And he will soon be flying to Budapest, Hungary to represent South Africa at the World Association of Kickboxing Organisations’ (Wako) world championships in November. He says his achievement and title is proof that a person’s background does not determine his future.He grew up struggling, and started working at the age of 13 at a farm in Pinelands where he earned enough to pay his fees and put food on the table. That is also where his passion for kickboxing started after years of being involved in various activities on the farm, including horse riding. Hardenberg says: “Since I started kickboxing I have participated in many fighting tournaments to improve my performance, skills and body condition to prepare myself for a bigger platform, since kickboxing as a sport has many different levels of competition. I knew I always had the self-motivation to take this a step further at each training camp I walked into.”Hartenberg represented Western Province at the South African Kickboxing Association’s national championships in Durban in April where he was crowned the new national champion.“Because of that, I was selected to represent South Africa at the championships in Hungary. This is the most important task at the moment for me since I’m the first fighter in years to represent our country in my weight division in full-contact kickboxing.”He says the fact that he came from “the most notorious gangster-related area in the Cape Flats”, where everything “revolves around drugs, gang-related activities and poverty”, was one of the main things that motivated him to work hard.“As a champion I always keep reminding myself of where I come from,” he says.He wants other young kickboxers to know there are opportunities out there and anyone can accomplish their dreams if they work harder. Hardenberg mostly depends on sponsorships and donations to fund his sport and is currently asking for donations to pay for his trip to Hungary.V For more information email email@example.com.