Real Life

REAL LIFE: Meet the country town dad whose death-defying challenges have made him famous

''There's no challenge I haven't mastered yet.''
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Anthony Kelly, 57, Armidale, NSW, shares his story with Take 5’s Mitchell Jordan

As soon as my head hit the surface, shards of tile shattered and went flying into the distance.

Looking down, I saw that I’d successfully broken through the layers of roof tile with a single headbutt.

As a martial arts instructor, challenges like this weren’t new to me.

I’d been training since I was 16, inspired by the likes of martial artist, Bruce Lee, and boxer, Muhammad Ali.

But when I saw a video of a martial artist catching a flying arrow, I knew what I had to do next.

“Will you be my archer?” I asked one of my students, who happily agreed.

Together, we spent weeks practising as I developed my eye and arm coordination.

Anthony with wife, Christine, and son, Taylor (right).

(Image: Supplied)

“You’re crazy,” my wife, Christine, chuckled when she learned about my new challenge.

But after weeks of practise, Christine’s father, who owned the local Chinese restaurant, agreed to let my martial arts studio do a demonstration outside his shop in the main street of town.

I planned to premiere my arrow-catching there for the whole town to see.

Calming myself as I walked out onto the street where a large crowd – including the local TV station – had gathered, I remembered all I’d learned in my training.

As the arrow hurtled towards me, I grabbed it and the townsfolk erupted into applause.

The camera man had captured the whole thing and the footage was broadcast around Australia.

Within minutes, I’d gone from being an ordinary bloke who worked in the high school woodwork department to someone who was now in contact with the Guinness World Records for what I’d done!

Meeting the world’s tallest man, Xishun Bao.

(Image: Supplied)

Interest in my work grew and, after setting a record, I was being flown to countries all over the world to perform.

I achieved all sorts of firsts, including the most number of arrows caught in two minutes, through to the most tennis balls caught blindfolded in one minute.

Making the Guinness World Records repeatedly introduced me to some amazing people, including Jyoti Amge, the shortest woman in the world, who lives in India, and the world’s tallest man, Xishun Bao.

“Dad, it’s so funny,” my son, Taylor, said. “Overseas, you’re famous, but here you can walk down the road and you’re just a normal guy.”

I liked it that way – fame was never my motivation, I simply enjoyed challenges which drew upon my martial arts background.

Although the work I do is certainly dangerous, I’ve only ever had a couple of close calls.

With Jyoti Amge, the shortest woman in the world.

(Image: Supplied)

When I was invited to India to promote the Guinness World Records and, as part of the tour, they asked me to shoot a rotating target above my head with an arrow whilst looking at a mirror on the ground.

“I catch arrows, I don’t shoot them,” I said.

But the locals insisted everything would be fine.

“You’re so famous, you can do anything!” they cried, handing me some old arrows.

The day before my performance, we did a rehearsal.

But as I began to shoot, the arrow splintered and went right through my finger.

It hurt like hell, but nothing could have prepared me for the trip to a makeshift hospital where a man pulled the splinter out of my finger using his teeth!

Thankfully, when I did the stunt live on TV the next day, it all went smoothly.

The most dangerous and heart-pounding stunt I’ve ever performed was in Austria, where I caught six arrows blindfolded and one went right through my finger.

Recording another death-defying challenge.

(Image: Supplied)

This year, I made it into the latest Guinness World Records again for the most targets hit with a blowgun in one minute while blindfolded.

For weeks I practised shooting the darts in my home, occasionally hitting the wall or blinds.

But the hardest thing was being able to continually fire them off without passing out from lack of oxygen.

When it came to performing it, I arranged for videographers to film and time me.

Being able to shoot 11 targets in just one minute was thrilling but before I could celebrate, I hit the floor, delirious and needing to recover.

Travelling around the world and wowing audiences is a long way from working at a school!

(Image: Supplied)

Christine was watching, as supportive as ever.

“You’re the yin to my yang,” I tell her.

Although she’s very shy compared to me, we’re a perfect match and I know I never could have done all I have without her love to guide me.

I admit I’m getting older now but there are still many stunts I’m itching to have a crack at – I can’t say what they will be in case someone copies and beats me to it!

But, until then, with a wife and son I love so much, I know I’ll always be a winner.

Anthony features in the latest Guinness World Records.

(Image: Supplied)

Christine tells Take 5:

Anthony is the most amazing husband and father.

I’d never be able to do the sort of stunts he performs and feel so proud of all he’s achieved.

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