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Youngest son of Canoe man John Darwin now teaches SWORD FIGHTING

Mr Darwin in his role as a sword instructor
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The youngest son of Canoe Man John Darwin is living out his own fantasy life – teaching ancient sword fighting skills to fans of shows like Vikings and Game of Thrones.

Anthony Darwin, 43, who has now changed his surname to his mother’s maiden name, has put the cut and thrust of his former life behind him to become an instructor in ‘Historical European Martial Arts’, MailOnline has learned.

Previously an insurance salesman, he reinvented himself as a swordsman instructor teaching battle techniques to men and women inspired by the success of fantasy dramas Game of Thrones, Vikings and the Last Kingdom and Hollywood blockbuster Gladiator.

Anthony set up his school for would-be Vikings in Basingstoke, Hampshire, two years ago.

It offers newcomers and skilled swordsmen and women the chance to train and spa with a variety of weapons and a range of combat styles from those used by medieval-knights in shining armor to renaissance Italian swordplay.

Experts claim to use historical texts and manuscripts dating back centuries and say their growing community is ‘bringing back to life the dead arts of the old European masters’.

Mr Darwin in his role as a sword instructor

Mr Darwin in 2007, after his mother and father's fraud plot had been exposed

Anthony Darwin, 43, the youngest son of Canoe Man John Darwin, is living out his own fantasy life – teaching ancient sword fighting skills to fans of shows like Vikings and Game of Thrones. Pictured: Anthony in his role as a sword instructor, and right in 2007, when his mother and father’s fraud plot was exposed

Anthony has teamed up with two other instructors to offer weekly night classes at a community school near his home in Basingstoke, Hampshire.

Launching the fight club, he encouraged fans of the dramas to ‘choose your weapon’ and ‘prepare to learn something you’ve only seen on TV’.

He wrote on Facebook: ‘Did you watch Game of Thrones, Vikings, Gladiator or something similar and think how amazing it would be to be able to fight with a sword like that?

‘We teach you how to fight with a longsword, side sword or sword and buckler, saber and more’.

The club’s website describes HEMA as a martial art and competitive sport that is ‘growing throughout the UK and the World’.

It says that the success and popularity of fantasy dramas has meant people ‘are keen to see what it is really like to face someone with the type of sword you see in these TV shows’.

It added: ‘That is what we offer you, the opportunity to learn historic techniques and to fight with a sword in a safe and controlled environment with like-minded people’.

When contacted about his new life Anthony declined to comment.

Previously an insurance salesman, he reinvented himself as a swordsman instructor teaching battle techniques to men and women inspired by the success of fantasy dramas Game of Thrones, Vikings and the Last Kingdom and Hollywood blockbuster Gladiator

Previously an insurance salesman, he reinvented himself as a swordsman instructor teaching battle techniques to men and women inspired by the success of fantasy dramas Game of Thrones, Vikings and the Last Kingdom and Hollywood blockbuster Gladiator

Anthony was thrust into the limelight when his father faked his own death in an elaborate insurance scam which shocked the world.  Anthony and older brother Mark, 46, spent years believing their former prison officer father was dead after their mother Anne claimed he had drowned while out paddling in his canoe in 2002

Anthony was thrust into the limelight when his father faked his own death in an elaborate insurance scam which shocked the world. Anthony and older brother Mark, 46, spent years believing their former prison officer father was dead after their mother Anne claimed he had drowned while out paddling in his canoe in 2002

He said: ‘I’m not interested thank you.’

Anthony was thrust into the limelight when his father faked his own death in an elaborate insurance scam which shocked the world.

The extraordinary real-life drama has been retold this week in a four-part ITV series called ‘The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe’.

Anthony and older brother Mark, 46, spent years believing their former prison officer father was dead after their mother Anne claimed he had drowned while out paddling in his canoe in 2002.

In reality he lived for years in his own home in Seaton Carew, Teeside.

When friends and family visited, he would hide in a bedsit in the property next door, which the couple also owned.

Anthony Darwin is now a sword-fighting instructor

Anthony Darwin is now a sword-fighting instructor

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The ploy was part of a £680,000 fraud that allowed the couple’s debts to be paid off whilst they banked life insurance and pensions policies after Darwin was officially declared dead by a coroner.

They set off to Panama to start a new life together before the plot unraveled when a change in Panama’s visa laws meant the Darwins’ identities would have to be verified by UK police in order for them to receive now-required Panamanian ‘investors’ visas’ .

Knowing that his ‘John Jones’ alias would not pass this level of security, Darwin decided to return to the UK under his real name and fake amnesia.

He walked into a central London police station in December 2007, claiming to have no memory of the past five years.

His wife—who had sold up her British properties and moved to Panama three months before his re-appearance—expressed surprise, joy and elation at the return of her missing husband.

However, a police investigation into his disappearance had already been set up following a tip from one of Ms Darwin’s colleagues connecting her claim on her husband’s life insurance and her subsequent emigration to Panama.

Their story unraveled further after a photo appeared showing them together in an estate agent’s office in Panama the previous year.

In 2008, the brothers – who were left heartbroken by their parent’s betrayal – had to give evidence during their mother’s trial which ended in Anne, now 69, being jailed for six years and six months.

Darwin, 71, who admitted the fraud, was sentenced for six years and three months behind bars.

Anthony accused his mother of ‘dragging us through hell by forcing a court case’.

He has since reconciled with Anne who now lives a quiet life in a village outside Middlesbrough following her divorce.

But it is claimed he has refused to have anything to do with his father, who lives in the Philippines with his second wife Mercy Mae, 48.

Like his mother, Anthony has since changed his surname in a bid to move on from the past.

Anthony has teamed up with two other instructors to offer weekly night classes at a community school near his home (pictured) in Basingstoke, Hampshire

Anthony has teamed up with two other instructors to offer weekly night classes at a community school near his home (pictured) in Basingstoke, Hampshire

For many of Darwin's missing five years, he had been living in secret in his own home (pictured), where he shared a bed with his wife.  And when family and friends visited – and his sons returned from the inquest into his alleged death – Darwin hid in a bedsit next door that was accessed through a passageway hidden behind the door of a fake cupboard

For many of Darwin’s missing five years, he had been living in secret in his own home (pictured), where he shared a bed with his wife. And when family and friends visited – and his sons returned from the inquest into his alleged death – Darwin hid in a bedsit next door that was accessed through a passageway hidden behind the door of a fake cupboard

John and Anne Darwin are seen in a family photograph with their sons Mark and Anthony.  The couple deceived their sons when they colluded to gain life insurance and pensions payouts

Anthony (left) and Mark Darwin leave Teesside Crown Court after giving evidence against their mother at her 2008 trial

John and Anne Darwin are seen in a family photograph with their sons Mark and Anthony. The couple deceived their sons when they colluded to gain life insurance and pensions payouts

An ITV drama about John and Anne Darwin's fraud, titled The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe, airs in April.  Pictured: Eddie Marsan as Darwin and Monica Dolan as his wife

An ITV drama about John and Anne Darwin’s fraud, titled The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe, airs in April. Pictured: Eddie Marsan as Darwin and Monica Dolan as his wife

The father-of-two lives with accountant wife Louise, also 43.

When the couple married in September 2003 he told guests that his only wish was that his father had still been alive to celebrate their happy day.

While Anthony is said to have refused all contact with his father he is understood IT software engineer Mark – who has kept his father’s surname – has been prepared to speak to him.

According to journalist David Leigh who wrote the book that inspired the ITV series, Mark was the first to build bridges with their mother in jail.

He lives just 40 minutes from the village of Great Ayton, Yorkshire, where she has set up her new life.

After she was transferred to Askham open prison, near York in 2010 – before her release from custody the following year – Anthony introduced Anne to his grandson, who she had not known existed.

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