Current news - 2004
News Archive
Prokick Old Website - Full of News and History Dating back 10 Years

What a year for the sport in 2005

What a year 2004 has been. After 30 years involved in the sport, I can honestly say this has been the best ever. It has been a period of pronounced growth, with gym membership accelerating. It has been a time when events across the country are counting record ticket
sales and Northern Ireland's place as the centre of the sport in Europe has been cemented.
This year has also seen growth for the ProKick chain with new champions crowned, new clubs opening and a visit from a head of state – not to mention the the regular coverage here in the Spectator. It has been a year of personal highs with my own successful return to the ring and several of the fighters I train moving on to new highs.
If 2005 brings half the success of this year, we’ll be toasting 12 more great months. Here’s 2004 remembered in brief.

Clubs throughout the province receive record enquiries from people wanting to shift the extra pounds put on over the Christmas period and get involved with kickboxing.
It is estimated to be a 300% rise. Within the ProKick group, there is also a growth in the number of people wishing to take the next step and move to competitive action. And Hamilton, hit it off with Jordan when they met at a Belfast event.

Kickboxing receives the ultimate sanction when President of Ireland Mary McAleese visits the ProKick Gym HQ in east Belfast. It is the first time a head of state has paid an official visit to a kickboxing group in Britain or Ireland.

First outing of the year for Belfast’s world featherweight champion Gary Hamilton. He takes just
two rounds to demolish Belgian Gregory Colassin at the annual Bash & Mash event in Bangor. He’s also named Irish kickboxer of the year by the ProKick group.

‘Next Generation’ show in Belfast’s Park Avenue Hotel sees 24 of the best novices and first-timers from Ireland and the Home Nations meet in a ding-dong series of battles. And young North Down powerhouse Andrew Grimason lifts a British title, in front of a packed house. Such was the demand for tickets, that all 500 sold out in less than 24 hours.

Two successful over-seas trips for Irish fighters. First, Gary Hamilton leads the charge with victory at the annual Post Tenbras Cup in Geneva. He takes just one round to demolish Swiss hopeful and twice WAKO world champion Banushi Binak. Then, a six-man Northern Ireland team defy their lack of experience to return undefeated from an international meet in Ottawa.

I haul my creaking old bones back into the rising for one final hurrah. My fight at the Ulster Hall, against old adversary Norm Graham from New Zealand is the toughest of my career. It raises thousands for cancer charities.

1970s heartthrob Donny Osmond reveals his love of kickboxing when he meets one of Irish kickboxing’s veteran figures Gail Hagan. The coach and former fighter melts when she comes face to face with her pop idol.
I'm invited to the American K-1 Grand Prix in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and find myslef rubbing
shoulders with Mohammad Ali, Michael Jordon and Mike Tyson.

Belfast’s battling postie Lydia Braniff takes the WKN Irish Atomweight title after a tough battle in Galway. She shows off the belt to the Hole In The Wall Gang’s Dymphna who drops into Braniff’s training gym in east Belfast.

New figures show kickboxing in Northern Ireland is becoming dominated by females competitors. In some cases, gyms are report a membership split of 60/40 female to male, a turnaround from the 10/90 of just a few years ago.
Pop Idol Darius Danesh becomes the latest star to jet in to Northern Ireland and through his support behind the sport.

Europe’s first ever all woman show ‘The Ladykillers’ takes place in Belfast’s Holiday Inn. A capacity crowd sees Braniff take the British title and former European karate champion Cathy McAleer take part in her first (successful) kickboxing bout.

A gang of Belfast-based kickboxers are bound for Hollywood glory after starring with cinema legend Liam Neeson and rising star Cillian Murphy in a blockbuster film directed by Oscar winner
Neil ‘The Crying Game’ Jordan. The 10 fighters, all from the ProKick Gym in Belfast, shot their
scenes for ‘Breakfast on Pluto’ last week in Belfast’s Crumlin Road prison.

It’s Kickmas. Gary Hamilton defends his featherweight title for a final time before moving to lightweight. Braniff wins a European title and young powerhouse Andrew Grimason defends his British title, all in front of a packed house at the Ulster Hall.

Pictures to follow ...........

Back to news