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.
"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
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
Female Kickboxer of the year – Lydia Braniff, ProKick, Belfast
Knockout of the Year – Andrew Grimason, Next Generation, Belfast,
Fight of the year - Vinny Di Ruscio, at Hell, Kilkenny
Male Kickboxer of The Year (amateur) – Ken Horan, Black Dragon,
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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