Glenn Coxon has been practising martial arts for 52 years. During his long career, he’s been State and Australian champion many times over and has trained in China, Japan and the US with some of the top names in martial arts. As a practitioner at the top of his game he has trained actors in Hollywood for roles with martial arts action including Kylie Minogue, Raul Julia, Brian Dennehy, John Cusack and Micky Rourke. Most exciting for Glenn was when he got the chance to be Chuck Norris’s training partner. Glenn recounts the first time they met: “I’m standing opposite him and I’ve got this grin from ear-to-ear and he asks me what I’m grinning about.” Glenn’s response was: “I know it sounds really corny but I’ve followed your career all my life and I can’t believe I’m standing opposite you to train. I’m just blown away.”
Glenn is 59 and married with three grown-up children and one grandchild. He’s not the only member of the family bitten by the martial arts bug. His daughter Summerly holds the women’s record for the most amount of boards broken in one minute. It was at that event that a seed was sown. The adjudicator showed Glenn an advance copy of the 2016 Guinness World Record book. He was reading the smashing and breaking section and came across the world record for fastest to break 1,000 boards. The time was 20 minutes and 33 seconds. His response was: “Are you kidding? My record is 359 in one minute. Did he stop for lunch?” That’s when he decided it was time to attempt a new world record. In 2014 Glenn was preparing for another world record attempt when he went to the doctor with a sore throat. His doctor noticed a cyst on his neck. Glenn was sent for a scan, the result being that he found himself in a room with six professors, associate professors and doctors, all with their arms crossed. “They didn’t need to say anything. I found out it was stage 4 cancer of the neck.” The cancer was very advanced and the doctors told Glenn that they needed to hit it with absolutely everything they had. His only hope was a very aggressive approach. He underwent two rounds of surgery. His tonsils, some teeth, part of the tongue and part of the throat were removed in a bid to find the origin of the cancer. It turned out to be a neck cancer of unknown origin. Meanwhile, it was metastasising. It was heading out of the neck and down to the shoulder towards the aorta, and up into the neck towards the brain. After the second intensive surgery Glenn had to learn how to eat again, his tongue wouldn’t work, he couldn’t swallow and his voice sounded strange. He had five weeks to recover before embarking on chemotherapy and radiation therapy at the same. His wife Jo-Anne became an expert on diet and nutrition. She devised meal plans both to boost Glenn’s immune system and also to create an environment that was hostile to cancer growth. To get through it, Glenn drew upon his martial arts training. He was sitting on the ward with some other very sick patients when he had a moment of clarity. He said to himself: “What are you doing feeling sorry for yourself? You’ve got every potential; you’ve got everything to live for.” He decided it was time to fight. That’s when he started to view his cancer journey as a series of battles. “I was in a war that I didn’t want to be in. I’m an old samurai warrior and I live by the samurai code. The type of karate I do is called Bushido-Kai. It has a moral which is the way of the warrior. The warrior code is that you never give up.” All those years of training just switched on for Glenn. The retired warrior was being dragged back into one more war. It was time to put a battle plan together. In accepting that he was at war he understood that if he planned, he had a better chance of winning the battle. Surgery was the first battle. Once he’d conquered that one, he had another realisation. “I thought, you know what? I’m going to make a comeback from this so well that I’m going to make an attack on my own world record.” His surgeon at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse was Associate Professor Sydney Ch’ng. Glenn says: “Sydney removed the tumour from the nerve attached to my shoulder meticulously. The tumour was wrapped around the nerve. I could have lost the use of my shoulder and arm.” Sydney knew about the Glenn’s plans for a comeback. She did everything she could to ensure he’d retain the use of his shoulder and arm.
Glenn has been preparing for the world record attempts for about a year and a half. He’s confident that this is his time. On 6 August he’s taking a team up to the Gold Coast to the Go-Kan-Ryu Karate International World Cup where he’ll attempt two Guinness World Records: the fastest to break 1,000 pine boards; and the most people to break a pine board simultaneously in one location. “We’ll have 500 people going ready, set, crack. That will sound like a bomb going off!”.