A Thai boxing instructor from Steeton has been named as manager of the England Thai boxing team.

Robin Shepherd, 29, who was born at Embsay and runs Thai boxing gyms at Eastburn and Bingley, steps into the position which was vacated by previous manager Mark Corfield.

However the role will not be entirely unfamiliar to Shepherd, who coached two of his students, Vicky Lakin to silver medal at World Muay Thai Association Championships last March, and Ben Molloy to a gold medal at the European Championships in October.

Shepherd said: "I've had a lot to do with organising the teams already there.

Shepherd is looking forward to taking on his new role.

He said: "It's good because I'll get to travel quite a bit with the team."

Upcoming events include the World Championships in Bulgaria in March, the World Martial Arts Games in Bangkok and the International Muay Thai Games a week after that.

However it costs the fighters and coaches money to attend these events, which can be prohibitive for Shepherd and his students.

Shepherd said: "I literally can't afford to be at all of these event. The cost is way too much."

But he is hoping that Sport England will be providing some funds in the near future as the 2012 Olympic Games approach.

Although not currently recognised as an Olympic sport, Shepherd is hoping that will change in the near future.

One of Shepherd's students, Ben Molloy, is also finding the travelling costs expensive and he is seeking sponsorship so he can train and attend a competition in Oubon, Thailand, in March.

If Molloy raises enough money to go to Thailand, the 17-year-old Molloy, who is from Sutton, will be making his debut in a professional fight.

His amateur record in four wins out of five bouts but he said amateur and professional fights are much different.

"It's a big step up," Molloy said. "As an amateur you have to wear a headguard, bodyguard, shinguards and elbow pads. There's none of that in a professional bout."

He also said that professional bouts consist of five two-minute rounds while they are only three two-minute rounds at the amateur level.

Shepherd spoke highly of Molloy.

"To be a Thai boxer at their own game is something that would give Ben a boost."

Anyone interested in sponsoring Molloy is invited to visit his Thai boxing club's website at jaifreestyle.co.uk.