Dr Carl Langan-Evans
He was one of our inaugural sports scholars, alongside the likes of Beth Tweddle and Mike Rimmer, when he started his undergraduate studies here back in 2004 as he was a full-time elite athlete competing in Taekwondo.
He spent four years on the course with two ‘simple’ dreams of becoming a millionaire and going to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He didn’t make the Olympics (and is yet to become a millionaire) but decided to go into coaching full-time and pursue new endeavours of getting further involved in academia.
His PhD was entitled Making Weight in Combat Sports, and one of his papers has influenced many athletes and their support teams in undertaking better practices in disciplines that require strict weight making.
From Liverpool himself, Carl has connections to the many gyms across Merseyside that specialise in combat sports, like MMA and boxing, which has led him into roles working with high-profile athletes like Molly ‘Meatball’ McCann, Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett, Liam Smith, Josh Taylor and loads of others.
He is one of the many thousands of homegrown students that choose to stay and study in Liverpool, with LJMU often being the first-choice university of youngsters from the northwest region.
Carl also features in our ‘Humans of LJMU’ series in collaboration with the ‘Humans of Liverpool’ social media account, sharing the stories of the people who make our city, communities and university the vibrant, inclusive place it is in celebration of our bicentenary year.
“I’m in a role now where I get to teach the next generation of sports scientists and coaches, conduct research in an area I’m hugely passionate about and then translate that into performance and practice working with some of the best athletes in the world.”
– Dr Carl Langan-Evans
Carl’s ‘Humans of LJMU’ interview
“From the age of twelve, I had to lose weight to compete in Taekwondo tournaments. I competed at an elite level, winning gold in the junior Olympics, but as I grew older and matured physically, I struggled to make weight. I was naturally in at an awkward in-between, too big for the 58kg category but too small for 68kg. I had to cut around 12kg when I was in my early twenties, and it was tough.
“Before I got a sport scholarship to study at LJMU, I was cutting weight in dreadful ways. It wasn’t healthy at all. When I came to John Moores, I got a nutritionist, and they improved the way I did it, but it was still a tough endeavour. Unfortunately, I didn’t qualify for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and after that, I had a choice- to go all in with fighting or commit to coaching (which I had already been doing). I think at that point, I was so fatigued with cutting weight that I’d had enough. It was always in the back of my mind that there’s got to be a better way than this to drop weight safely.
“After that, I did four years with the English Institute of Sport, working with the Olympic programme, and I headed up performance here at LJMU, working with elite Olympic-level athletes, but I was keen on getting more into the academic world. When I studied for my PhD, my work was on making weight in combat sports. We came up with a lot of different studies, and we published a paper nearly 12 years ago that has been used by people as a blueprint ever since, which has made me a research and practitioner leader in that space.
“Alongside my research, I now work with athletes as a sports nutritionist and strength and conditioning coach. Liverpool is a hub for combat sports; that’s part of the reason I got into it myself. I’m really lucky to now work with Molly McCann, Paddy Pimblett, Liam Smith and loads of others. It’s now gone full circle, and I’m helping them make weight safely and effectively. It’s kind of bittersweet, really, it’s great that I’m helping them, but I think, why wasn’t there someone like me around to help me when I was fighting - but it’s great to be able to help others using my own positive and negative experiences.”