By Douglas Carew

Men were set alight, a devil was flattened by a speeding car, "gangsters" fired at one another with AK-47s and hundreds of karate kids assembled for a world record attempt at an action-packed Bellville Velodrome this weekend.

The death-defying stunts and karate exhibition were part of Dream Extreme, a youth outreach programme that aims to show that it is possible to have fun without drugs or alcohol.

From the safety of the grandstand on Saturday, spectators watched as two men were set alight.

They also marvelled as the "devil", who first fell 25m from the roof on to cardboard boxes, was run over, twice, by a maniac stuntdriver in a Chevrolet Camaro.

The gangster shootout saw one "victim" rolling down a flight of stairs before a mock shotgun blast blew another over a car - he was attached to a rope and yanked backwards before landing flat on his back.

The day was hosted by Anthony Liebenberg, pastor at Atlantic Christian Assembly, and was also supported by stuntman Neville Strydom and his business partner Rory Atkinson.

Strydom has been jumping off high buildings, surviving car crashes and leaping from helicopters on to trains since 1985, and Atkinson doubled for action star Jean-Claude van Damme in the new film Wake Of Death.

The aim of Saturday's action-packed event was to raise funds to set up a Life Dream Centre, based on a project in Los Angeles.

The centre will be a 24-hour place of refuge offering drug rehabilitation, HIV and Aids and medical clinics, a night shelter and a feeding and clothing scheme. It will offer computer and other skills training, act as an employment agency and a daycare facility.

Strydom said he hoped the event would encourage young people to consider a career in the stunt world. The message is that adrenalin-junkies get to meet and double for famous Hollywood actors and even get paid quite well.

Students of sixth dan karate expert Hennie Bosman, who also featured in Wake of Death, performed in what they hope will be recognised as the biggest ever karate display.

Before the world record attempt, Bosman, who is almost 2m tall and weighs 120kg, smashed two 10cm thick blocks of ice with his right forearm. His students then used roundhouse kicks to smash wooden baseball bats in half.