A Teesside-based Jiu-Jitsu fighter has spoken about the surprise moment he found himself standing across the mat from Hollywood actor Tom Hardy at a recent competition.

On Saturday (August 20), Danny Appleton, 40, from Ormesby, travelled to a charity martial arts competition organised by REORG in Wolverhampton, when he came face-to-face with one of the most recognisable names in the world of film and TV.

After battling through the first few rounds of the Jiu-Jitsu tournament with relative ease, Mr Appleton only realised that the actor would be his opponent as he entered the arena.

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Despite not even knowing that Mr Hardy, 44, was going to be involved in the competition, the Stockton fighter put his starstruck nature to the side and managed to give a good account of himself.

In the end, though, he was defeated after the Peaky Blinders and Legend star managed to lock him in an armbar, which forced him to submit.

From there, the Hollywood A-lister went on to win the whole competition, while Mr Appleton still came away with a bronze medal.

The Northern Echo: Actor Tom Hardy winning the jiu-jitsu fight against Danny Appleton. Picture: DANNY APPLETON Actor Tom Hardy winning the jiu-jitsu fight against Danny Appleton. Picture: DANNY APPLETON

Despite getting bested by the actor, Mr Appleton has now spoken about his admiration for Mr Hardy, who had plenty of time for those that were there, including the army veteran and his children.

Tom, who is known for his hardman roles, is a high-level Blue Belt in Jiu-Jitsu and ambassador for REORG; a charity that helps the military, veterans, and blue light workers.

During the event, Mr Hardy also reportedly opened up about his connection to the North East, which includes through his wife Charlotte Riley, from Grindon, and the fact that his grandad came from Stockton.

The Northern Echo: Danny with his bronze medal. Picture: DANNY APPLETONDanny with his bronze medal. Picture: DANNY APPLETON

But the connections between the actor and Teesside don’t stop there, as the Hollywood star has been to Middlesbrough’s Gracie Barra jiu-jitsu academy before, according to Danny.  

Speaking about his shock and surprise at having Tom Hardy at the competition, Mr Appleton, who served in the military for ten years, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, said: “Ever since the competition, social media has blown up with people tagging me in plenty of posts – it’s mad how things have got.

The Northern Echo: Danny and Tom Hardy on the podium. Picture: DANNY APPLETONDanny and Tom Hardy on the podium. Picture: DANNY APPLETON

“During the fight, I kept my emotions in check, even though I was starstruck.

“He’s just a top guy – he’s very strong which surprised me and a very good fighter.

“On the podium, we congratulated each other and took some photos, and I know a lot of other people wanted to speak to him and to take photos with him too.”

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