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Irish Kickboxing Awards


Darius and his co-host Claire McCollum from UTV were wonderful together.Pop Idol Darius Danesh has said he would rather spend time in Northern Ireland than at a glitzy Hollywood party.
The star made the stunning revelation after hosting the inaugural Irish Kickboxing Awards on Saturday night. He had jetted into Belfast from LA where he is set to start recording new material.
“I’ve been at Elton John’s post-Oscar bash and I can tell you, if next year these awards clashed with one of Elton’s parties, I’d chose the Awards. I’ve had such an incredible time here as I always do. I just love Northern Ireland,” he said. Darius took to the stage at Belfast's Holiday Inn to the strains of Britney Spears 'Hit Me Baby...', the song that became his calling card after he famously massacred it on national TV.
Belfast’s world champion Gary Hamilton took the night’s big award when he was voted Male Kickboxer of the Year. The delighted 24-year-old thanked his coach Billy Murray and sparring partners at the ProKick Gym when he accepted the gong.
Lydia Braniff, another ProKick star, walked off the award for Female Kickboxer of the year. She became European Atomweight champion in 2004 - having scorched through her division taking Irish and British titles within a matter of months. ProKick scored a hat-trick of winners when teenage sensation Andrew Grimason won Knockout of The Year for a deadly punch against Scot Zander Patterson that brought him the British title in May.
However, the Belfast gym did not dominate the awards. Other big winners included Galway’s Ken Horan who picked up the amateur Kickboxer of the year award. His base, the Black Dragon Club in the city was voted Club of the Year and James Kelly of the Gra-teora Martial Arts in Dublin was the Newcomer of the year.
Kilkenny is the toast of Irish Kickboxing after scooping a double helping of awards at the inaugural Irish Kickboxing Awards ceremony.
Coach turned promoter Paul Cummins saw his ‘Hell’ show awarded the Event Of The Year prize, while his fighter Vinny Di Ruscio took the gong for fight of the year. His titanic battle with Daniel Nordas took the public vote.
“This is a great surprise and an honour,” Cummins said. “It’s great recognition for the wonderful work we’re doing here. We’ll be looking for more awards next year.”

Veteran coach Billy O’Sullivan won the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award. Veteran coach Billy O’Sullivan won the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award.
"This is such a wonderful night for kickboxing," he said. "For those of us who have been working in this sport for longer than we care to remember, it's makes things worthwhile. I'm honoured to accept this and I'm delighted Billy Murray is leading the way and providing ideas that the rest of us can follow."
“It was an incredible night,” said event coordinator Murray. “Every major kickboxing organisation and gym from across Ireland was represented – all here in Belfast to celebrate the best, high octane live-action sport in the world. Darius and his co-host Claire McCollum from UTV were wonderful together. It was a really, really great evening. Bring on the 2006 awards.”
Murray revealed that it had been touch and go as to whether or not Darius made it to Belfast in time. The star’s flight from LA to London was six hours late. He missed his connecting flight to Northern Ireland and made it to the Holiday Inn with just minutes to spare. Despite the setbacks, Darius said nothing would have kept him from the awards.
“I would have walked here if I had to,” he said. “I believe passionately in what Billy Murray and his team are doing here. Kickboxing is the sport of the future and I’m honoured to host the first ever national awards.”
Right after the awards, Darius headed straight back on a trans-Atlantic flight to LA to continue work on his new album.

Full list of winners:
Newcomer of the Year (male) – James Kelly, Gra-teora Martial Arts, Dublin
Newcomer of the Year (female) – Cathy McAleer, Rosario Karate
Under 13 student of the Year – Adam Keane, Black Dragon, Galway
Event of the year – ‘Hell’, Kilkenny, November 6
Female Kickboxer of the year – Lydia Braniff, ProKick, Belfast
Knockout of the Year – Andrew Grimason, Next Generation, Belfast, September
Fight of the year - Vinny Di Ruscio, at Hell, Kilkenny
Male Kickboxer of The Year (amateur) – Ken Horan, Black Dragon, Galway
Club of The Year – Black Dragon, Galway
Male Kickboxer of the Year (professional) – Gary Hamilton
Lifetime Achievement Award – Billy O’Sullivan

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