WIFE BEATER INSPIRES THE BLIND MAN
you heard the one about the husband who asked his wife to teach
him how to fight?
It’s no joke.
Belfast man Mark Braniff did just that when he decided to follow
in the footsteps of wife Lydia, the current Irish, British and European
The north-Belfast ‘blind man’ is now focussing on a
fighting career in his wife’s sport after attaining his first-grade
yellow belt last week.
Lydia, 25, is preparing to fight for the world title at the Ulster
Hall later this year, is the most popular female kickboxer in Ireland,
inspiring many women to venture into the sport.
Her skill and determination has equally inspired husband Mark, who
said, “When I finally got my hands on the yellow belt it felt
like a great achievement. Lydia is years ahead of me in terms of
ability and dedication but she is very supportive. She has a goal
to be at the top and she will get there. All I want is to better
my grading and get into the ring a few times, I would be happy with
“Experiencing competitive fights will also give me an insight
into what Lydia goes through when she’s in the ring,”
said Mark, who designs blinds for homes all over Northern Ireland.
While Mark supports his wife’s bid to reign as a world champion,
he admits to finding it difficult to watch the Belfast ProKick Gym
girl mix it in the ring.
“When Lydia’s in the ring I can’t speak. I try
shouting words of encouragement but my mouth goes dry. It’s
not easy to sit and watch your wife taking punches but it’s
made easier because she’s given them too and I know she’s
the best there is.
“When I first met Lydia she always said she needed something
to focus on because she felt she had never achieved anything. Once
she started kickboxing there was no stopping her.
“She gets recognised on the streets and people always pay
her compliments. She is a great role model for women in sport and
has inspired quite a few girls, including her sister, to join her.”
The young couple would like to bring another fighter to the world
but family planning isn’t on the agenda just yet.
Mark, 30, added: “We talk about having children and hopefully
someday we will. But for now Lydia has the aim to be world champion
and that is her sole focus.”
For more information on kickboxing for women, call 028 90 651074.
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