Huddersfield’s Nisar Smiler is widely regarded as one of the early pioneers of karate in the North of England. In a 50-year career in martial arts he’s amassed an incredible 102 gold medals.

Born in Pakistan Smiler moved to England in 1967 with his family. He was introduced to karate at the age of three and grew up to become a world champion.

Smiler learned the art under leading teachers including Tony Duke. In the early 1970s – in his early 20s – he moved to Japan to train under world renowned grandmaster Gōgen Yamaguchi who specialised in the style Gōjū-ryū.

Under Yamaguchi’s stewardship Smiler won his first of two World Championships in 1975. He was later crowned world champion again in 1997.

On travelling to Japan and training under Yamaguchi, Smiler said: “I was very excited to go to Japan, however when I was there I did feel homesick.

“The training was so intense and hard, I really wanted to come home. However, Yamaguchi persuaded me to stay. He said there was a tournament coming up and believed I could win it.

“He did say, though, that if I lost in the first round I would have to go back to England and never talk to him again as it would be embarrassing!

“This pushed me on and made me determined to do well. I got to the quarter-final and he said to me that if I lost there would be no shame in it now. I said to him that I am so close to winning it, I don’t want to lose. I eventually won the competition. That was back in 1975.

“I came back to England and carried on training. I competed in various competitions winning gold after gold. I once asked someone whether anyone had won more golds than me in this sport and they replied that they didn’t think so.

“I am very proud of the amount of medals I have won. I dearly love the sport and think it is important that younger people learn the techniques and take part in it.”

As well as winning two world championships, Smiler has been crowned British champion four times, winning it three years in a row. He’s also been European champion four times, also in three successive years.

Over the last five decades Smiler has become one of the most recognisable names in the martial arts world. He is now president of the World Mixed Martial Arts Council.

Besides his sporting achievements, Smiler is an experienced radio broadcaster and actor. He began a career in radio in the 1980s after discovering his love for the industry in Japan.

On his return to England he joined a number of radio stations including Sunrise Radio and Asian Sound before creating his own radio station, Radio Paigham, in the hope of passing on his skills to amateurs and hobbyists in the mixed martial arts world.

Smiler has also appeared in various TV soaps including Emmerdale and Coronation Street and has also had parts in films such as The Tournament.

On that part of his life, Smiler said: “I really loved doing the radio work, it was great. I’m very proud of what I’ve done in that industry.

“I also worked on DM Digital Global Television as an anchor, I presented shows for them from 2005. I’ve just been working on a new film called Deevana which will be the first ever British Asian film to go worldwide into every cinema. It will be released on June 2 2023. I am currently working on another film called Tick Tok. So it’s all very exciting.”

Smiler is still competing in martial arts but is currently recovering from an injury sustained at an event in Thailand. He is hoping to be fit to compete in a competition in Malaysia in September. 

Closer to home finally and Smiler is hoping to open a new mixed martial arts club in the middle of Huddersfield, however he is looking for someone to sponsor the club or provide a building suitable to host it.

“I’ve had various clubs across Huddersfield and Bradford down the years and now I want to open a new one,” he said.

Anyone who can help should contact Smiler on 07932 079555.