UFC champion Tom Aspinall could be honoured with mural in his hometown - with £10,000 fundraiser launched
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Tom Aspinall has cemented himself as one of the rising stars of British sport. From humble Atherton - the UFC star shocked New York's Madison Square Garden when he defeated feared Russian Sergei Pavlovich in just 69 seconds to win the interim heavyweight title.
Now, he wants to have a huge fight on home soil having called out champion and MMA great Jon Jones for a fight in Manchester to decide who is the real top dog. And his achievements haven't gone unnoticed on home soil.
A £10,000 fundraising appeal has been launched to create a mural celebrating Aspinall is his home town. Atherton already has a mural of decorated athlete Keely Hodgkinson, while Manchester United and England footballer Ella Toone – her former classmate at Fred Longworth High School – is recognised in artwork in nearby Tyldesley.
Now, Atherton south and Lilford councillor Lee McStein has announced plans for a mural to honour Aspinall. He has inspired many with his sporting success and for being an outspoken advocate for autism awareness, and it is hoped the mural will celebrate his achievements and show Atherton residents’ gratitude and admiration.
Coun McStein has launched a fundraising campaign, named Unveiling Greatness, which invites residents, businesses and UFC enthusiasts to contribute to the creation of the mural. A total of £10,000 is needed to cover the costs associated with engaging a professional artist, along with the design and printing of material to be situated with the artwork.
Coun McStein said: "As someone who enjoys mixed martial arts at a community gym, and a massive fan of Tom, I am absolutely thrilled to see this fundraiser come to fruition today. This mural will not only be a significant landmark in the area, but will also stand as a testament to honour a world champion like Tom in our community that many residents are already calling for.
"I’ve already spoken with Tom himself and officers at Wigan Council back in July to ensure this is done with his consent, and that it will be done to the standard we expect for a world champion, and I’m in contact with a number of award-winning artists who could potentially complete this work."
Business owners, such as Imagine Print and Design, are already showing their support with window displays featuring Tom with his trademark M46 gumshield.
Coun McStein said: “It’s all a little bit surreal, I used to serve Tom regularly while working at Aldi years ago and remember a colleague telling me, ‘That’s Tom Aspinall, he’s going to be big news in the UFC soon’. It’s incredible to hear Tom being announced in the UFC and it fills you with pride to hear Bruce ‘Lets get ready to rumble’ Buffer shouting out ‘Atherton, Greater Manchester’ when announcing fighters.”
Donations can be made via the fundraiser page online.