This article appeared on the This is Hull and East Riding website on 24th September 2012
Stopped from seeing his own children by social services after the allegations were made by the 15-year-old boy, it took Mark Ellwood 18 months to clear his name.
For the former kickboxer, with almost 250 fights under his belt, it was his lowest point of his life.
Now cleared by a court and exonerated by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), Mark’s life is on the up after launching his own kickboxing gym.
“I really feel like I can finally get back to doing what I know best after the massive farce of the last few years,” he said.
“Eventually, I hope to be able to start teaching school children again. I have always enjoyed working with children and that was snatched away from me.
Father-of-three Mark, 48, has launched Tornado Kickboxing in a bid to develop champions of the future.
He’s also keen to educate the city’s children in health and fitness.
“Now I have a partnership with the council, I will be working towards getting some pupils in as part of their curriculum,” he said.
It was in January 2009 when Mark’s life was torn apart after a pupil accused him of assault.
Working with troubled pupils at David Lister School in east Hull, Mark had restrained the boy on the floor in self-defence after he came under attack from the child.
The boy’s parents, who laughed in court when their son was giving evidence, called in Humberside Police.
Arrested and charged with common assault, Mark was later cleared of any wrongdoing at Hull Magistrates’ Court in October that year.
However, it wasn’t until August 2010 that he received a letter from the ISA, exonerating him.
“It is so easy to get into the system,” he said.
“It was a moment, an instant, and then I was trapped for months.
“And once you are in, it is a hell of a lot harder to get out. The police, social services, the education authorities – the whole thing is a minefield and you just cannot get out.
“It’s so complex and all I wanted to do was fight back, but you can’t.
“Accusations are easily made and they stay with you. Vindication is nigh on impossible.”
If the battle against the authorities taught him anything, it was to find the strength to keep on trying.
Opened in partnership with businessman and former pupil John Jefferson, the gym is based at Costello Stadium in west Hull, where Mark will take boxercise classes and lead kickboxing lessons.
Once an 18ft purpose-built ring opens in the next few weeks, he hopes to start training competitive kickboxers.
“I was really enjoying the work I was doing at David Lister before the whole thing blew up in my face, it’s a shame because I feel I could have made a really difference,” he said.
“I can focus on the future now. It’s real, something I can actually touch and concentrate my mind on now rather than looking back and worrying.
“As far as I am concerned, the whole thing has gone.
“But for other people, I don’t think it will ever be over completely. It will always be on my record, but at least it will show I was cleared.”