A CAGE fighter jailed for drug dealing has vowed to regain his world title and give money from his fights to charity.

North-East mixed martial artist Darren Towler was sentenced to three years and three months at Durham Prison after he was found with cocaine, £2,300 cash and 2,000 ecstasy tablets stashed in his car.

He has recently been released on licence after serving 15 months and said he is determined to put his criminal past behind him.

Mr Towler said: “It was a bad time in my life. I got involved in some things I should not have got involved in and it came to a head when I got a custodial sentence.

“When I was in there I realised I had let a lot of people down, friends, supporters and family.

“It was harder mentally than anything else. It was a shock and it was an eye opener.

“You get involved in things and do not realise the consequences until you have to do them.”

The 35-year-old, of Consett, County Durham, who lifted a Ultimate Challenge Mixed Martial Arts title in 2011, has two fights lined up in at Stanley Civic Hall with the first on September 17.

If he wins those he has a shot of regaining his title in London in the New Year.

Mr Towler plans to give money raised, potentially £10,000, through the fights to the Lee Robson Patient Care Grants, which is part of the leukaemia charity Bright Red.

He said: “My main aim when I got out was to turn everything around and do a lot more for charity so I am putting that in motion to show people you can go away and come out changed.

“You do not have to be tarred with that brush constantly. You can come out and do something good. It is a very worthwhile cause. Cancer is close to everyone’s heart and it is a local charity.”

Lee Robson was a patron for the charity and he set up the scheme before his death from leukaemia in summer 2013.

His father, Billy Robson, Consett YMCA’s chief executive, said: “I have known Darren for a number of years. It is for the Lee Robson Patient Care Grant and every year we strive to keep Lee’s memory alive.”

Bright Red has paid out £30,000 in grants to patients to make getting through their treatment easier.

Charity manager Ashley Elliott said: “We’re eternally grateful to Lee’s family and friends for all they continue to do. They have helped so many families.”