UFC heavyweight world champion Tom Aspinall wants to raise awareness of autism after son's diagnosis

  • ITV Granada Sport Correspondent David Chisnall speaks to Tom Aspinall at Old Trafford

"He's amazing, he's fantastic. He's my absolute world, I absolutely love him."

Tom Aspinall talks with a glowing fatherly pride about his 4-year-old son, who two years ago was diagnosed with autism.

Tom says: "He's doing great in school now and getting the help he needs at school and everything is great with him, yeah he's progressing."

Tom Aspinall with his three children Credit: Instagram @tomaspinallofficial

The 30-year-old from Atherton in Greater Manchester is Great Britain's first UFC Heavyweight Champion after knocking out Russian Sergei Pavlovich in just 69 seconds at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Tom now wants to use the profile that comes with the title to raise awareness of autism.

He says: "I want to have as many people knowing about autism as possible using the platform that I've got just to talk and get the message out there about autism - the way they live their life and the needs they've got and the way that people in public should treat them. If I can get that out there a bit, that's great for me that's job done."

Tom Aspinall with twin sons Credit: Instagram @tomaspinallofficial

Tom has three children, all boys with the eldest aged 7 and twins aged 4. It was a chance meeting with Paddy McGuinness that encouraged him to get one of the twins diagnosed.

He says: "Seeing Paddy McGunness' documentary he has three autistic children. We watched it and were like there's a lot of similarities between what he's saying and what we've got.

"Funnily enough, me and Paddy met on a talk show I asked him about it and he said you need to push for a diagnosis as much as possible. That's exactly what I did, we were seeing specialists and just went from there."

TV presenter and comedian Paddy McGuinness Credit: Ian West/PA Wire/PA Images

Taking Paddy's advice Tom paid for a private diagnosis but he's aware not everyone can do that.

He says: "There's so many people out there who are on a waiting list for diagnosis and they're not getting any closer. They don't know how to get help, they don't know how to get treatment because autism is such a massive spectrum that every single person is different. So it's tough, it's really tough."

Tom Aspinall in the octagon Credit: George Tewkesbury/PA Wire/PA Images

Tom hopes speaking out will help out. To amplify his message he has grand plans for defending his UFC heavyweight title, with Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium an ambitious future venue.

He says: "That is what dreams are made of. I've been in many arenas before but I've never fought in a stadium. So if the UFC would do that this would be the ideal place definitely.

"I want to fight the best ever which is Jon Jones. I want to test myself against that and go down as one of the best ever myself, so he's next."

Big challenges lie ahead for Tom, as he embraces important roles both in and out of the octagon.

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