Uri saves martial Expert's Life

The Independent
December 3, 2000

Exclusive by Nick Constable

Psychic Uri Geller saved one of the West Country's top martial arts experts after discovering his deadly secret - the slimmers' disease bulimia.

Uri, who 23 years ago almost died himself, became friends with Matt Fiddes after a showbiz agent brought them together to produce a 'mind and body' fitness video.

But as filming progresses, Uri realised that his co-star - who has built up a 12 million dusiness teaching Tae Kwan Do - was anything but fully fit.

After confronting the 21-year-old instructor, Uri forced him to reveal an amazing double life.

In public, Matt would lead training for 600 students - half of them children - instilling discipline, good health, control and self confidence.

But in private, the black belt 4th dan would secretly carry round supplies of airline sickness bags to ensure he could always get rid of meals as quickly as possible.

Experts say that his secretive behaviour is typical of an illness widespread in body-image sports,such as America's WWF wrestling circuit.

Uri, 54, said : "Matt became terribly thin. He was losing weight each week but acted like nothing was wrong.

"As a former bulimia sufferer I knew the signs. In the 1970s I virtualy starved myself to death by pushing a toothbrush down my throat to make myself sick after meals.

"Matt reminded me of myself at his age. He'd experienced a lot of success but he also had the pressures it brought. He had so many children looking up to him and he worked incredibly long hours.

"I had to drag the truth out of him over several weeks. Finally he broke down and told me he was addicted to bulimia and that it totally dominated his life. It was like a drug to him."

Matt, who runs one of Britain's biggest Tae Kwon Do academies at Barnstaple, believes that an obsession with success and image caused his illness.

He said : "I took up martial arts after being bullied at school. That affected my studies and my teachers wrote me off. From that moment my philosophy was to be successful and prove them all wrong.

Finance

"The problem took hold within a few weeks of opening my academy in 1998. The interest was phenomenal and I just couldn't handle the pressure.

"I was answering phones, dealing with admin, arranging finance, sweeping the floor, and taking all the lessons myself because it took time to find qualified instructors.

"Eventually I became obsessed with my appearance. I wanted to be the perfect human shape.

"I resented eating food and I was always going to the toilet to make myself sick. If I could not find a toilet I had a secret supply of airline sick bags."

Matt, who last month married long-time girlfriend Marcia Loscombe, 28, added : "I tried to hide the truth from Marica, my instructors and my family.

"In January this year I started losing a lot of weight and by April, I was down from 15st 7lb to 10-7. If it hadn't been for Uri I would probably be dead by now.

"He made me confess and gave me some exercises in willpower and positive thinking. He rang me everyday to make sure I was eating properly.

"He also persuaded me to seek advice from some doctors who trained at my academy. It all helped get me back on track. It is still a struggle, but I am over the worst."

Friend in need : Matt Fiddes(above) says he owes his life to psychic Uri Geller


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