A WIRRAL teenager, who lives with an autism diagnosis, has been named number one in the world for his fighting category in Judo.

Joshua Hughes, from Woodchurch, has trained at Wirral Judo Club since 2011, when he was five.

Just over a year ago, Joshua, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age, was selected to fight for the Adaptive (Disability) Team GB worldwide in the II3 category.

Class II3 is the category for athletes with autism. A formal diagnosis of Autism or ASD is carried out by qualified practitioners, using accepted diagnostic techniques.

With the team, Joshua has been to four major international events.

His first was the Inaugural Virtus Oceania Asia Games, which took place in Brisbane, Australia in November 2022, and where Josh won gold after beating the Japanese adaptive champion in just one minute.

Wirral Globe: Joshua with his gold medalJoshua with his gold medal (Image: Eddie Hughes)

Just two weeks after returning home, he flew to Venray, Netherlands to compete in the Nihon Dutch Open Shenshu, where he came second in his category, after winning four of five fights.

Then, in the same month, Joshua was training when his partner landed on him during a throw, breaking his collarbone, putting Josh into a three month injury.

However, in February 2023, Joshua returned to the mat and in June, he competed at the Virtus Global Games in Vichy, France.

He became the world-ranked - 73kgs II3 player to take his seat at the top of the world, above Israeli and Australian competition.

Wirral Globe: Joshua Joshua (Image: Eddie Hughes)

In August of the same year, Joshua then competed at the British Adaptive Open in Cardiff, Wales. 

He won the gold medal here and solidified his status as the 73kg Adaptive best player.

Eddie Hughes, Joshua's dad, said: "Joshua has most recently competed at the first-ever European Judo Union recognised Adaptive Judo Event, his second Nihon Dutch Open, improving his record in the Netherlands by topping the group after four intense rounds, beating a strong Hungarian opponent both in the group stages and in the final by penalties.

"Although aged 17, Josh has also won back-to-back-to-back British Adaptive Schools Championships - that’s hard to read, never mind to do."

At the moment, all Adaptive Judo events are self-funded, meaning all expenses are paid for through donations and fundraisers.

Eddie added: "As parents, we are immensely proud of what he has achieved.

"He has overcome many personal battles to be able to compete at such a high level. He is such a humble lad and takes it all with a pinch of salt.

"Judo can be adapted to suit many disabilities, it shows there are abilities not disabilities."