WHEN The World Cup kicks off in Brazil, the country’s special forces will have a trick up their sleeve to control rowdy football fans — thanks to 72-year-old martial arts expert Steve Costello.
Mr Costello, who teaches martial arts at Bolton Cricket Club in Great Lever, has visited Brazil every year since 1995, training the country’s police and military personnel on how to defend themselves.
His journey started when a friend invited him to become the first foreign instructor to teach karate in Brazil.
Since then, he has made his name in Curitiba, a city in the state of Parana which is four times the size of Manchester.
Over the years, Mr Costello has taught the fire service and the police cavalry a variety of martial arts disciplines, with a different theme each year. This year, he has taught blindfolded karate techniques to those in charge of policing The World Cup.
He has eight Dans in Karate, seven Dans in Kobudo, four Dans in Jujitsu and has had afternoon tea with The Duchess of Kent — not bad for the 11-year-old lad who started out at Bolton Boxing Club.
Mr Costello, of Tonge Moor Road, Tonge Moor, is held in high regard in South America, having been featured on Brazilian TV and radio and even being labelled “the legend” by Valdir Rossini, the head of the police federation in Brazil.
But like a typical unsung hero, Mr Costello has stayed true to his roots.
He said: “I don’t like to make a big fuss of it. I enjoy being in Brazil and being around Brazilian people, but I also enjoy teaching kids and adults in Bolton.
“I want Brazil to win the World Cup. Brazilians are cracking people, absolutely first class. I don’t think I’ve met a Brazilian without a smile on their face!
“They love a challenge and they are very competitive, which is probably why they win so much.”
Asked for the secret to his healthy life, Mr Costello replied: “I like keeping fit. I eat the right things, I do a lot of walking, I like to have a nice little jog — I keep myself healthy, basically. It’s just common sense.”
Fergal Hughes is Mr Costello’s assistant at Bolton Cricket Club. Mr Hughes, aged 35, said: “He’s a sound guy — he’s not arrogant, he just does his own thing. He looks after himself really well. If he goes for a pint, he walks to the pub. Everything he does in life has a purpose.”
Mr Costello teaches martial arts every Tuesday night at Bolton Cricket Club.