THE world may be football-mad at
the moment – but last Saturday (June 24) a corner of
Belfast was obsessed with a different sort of kicking.
A unique double whammy kickboxing show took place at the Park
Avenue Hotel in the city – The event seen a matinee
show running from 1pm to 3.30pm featuring first timers and
novices and then an evening series of bouts which ran from
7.30 – 10pm. The evening seen three British titles and
Celtic titles at weights from lightweight to heavyweight.
“Nothing on this scale has ever happened before,”
said promoter Billy Murray. “It has taken an awful lot
of planning and organisation. Aside from setting up matches
for a lot of rising young stars of the sport, we’ve
also been trying to make matches for these bigger names, trying
to get them all title shots.
Here’s a rundown on some of the big fights
of the day
Kicking For Glory - Fight fans thrilled by double whammy
Young, the football star-turned kickboxer, is celebrating
his first ever title at the weekend.
The chisel-chinned former Linfield man took the vacant WKN
Celtic Super-welterweight crown in emphatic fashion in Belfast
at the weekend with a convincing points win.
Though the fight went all four rounds, Young was comfortably
ahead of his tough Scottish opponent Scott Peatrie.
“I’m delighted,” said Young. “I felt
good in the ring, I was confident and my shots were working.
He pushed me but I never felt in any real danger until he
caught me with a good kick to the body.
“It was also great to see so many fight fans packed
in when there were all the distractions of the World Cup.
I guess nothing beats the thrill of a live show.”
Young said he and coach Billy Murray will now start working
towards a defence of his title then hopefully a British title.
OF THE BILL on the evening card was World Light middleweight
champion Andrew Grimason. He
was fighting in his home city for the first time since he
became champ and was never really troubled in his non-title
bout with Aberdeen’s Alan Thomas. It was a good work-out
for tougher opponents who are on the way, not taking any thing
away from Thomas he was dangerous to the end.
rising star of Murray’s ProKick camp is Mark
Hennessy. The Belfast man was tipped for greatness
by some of the sports biggest names – and he is beginning
to live up to the tough billing. He dispatched Glasgow’s
Jackie Byrnie within two rounds with a devastating display
of kicking and punching combinations.
Hennessy had the brave Scot on the canvas four times over
two rounds before the Swiss referee Carl Emery stepped in
to call a halt to the match.
so many classy fights on the bill, there were many classy
displays – mostly for ProKick's men. Young
Stuart Jess from Dromore is now WKN British light welterweight
champion. He took it from the English belt-holder Barinder
Singh in a close fought fight. When Singh travelled from Leicester
he might have thought it was a matter of course against the
much less experienced Jess. But Jess grabbed his opportunity
with both hands – and some precision round-house kicks
from both men made it difficult for the judges to split it
– two judges giving a draw and the third shading it
to Stuart Jessto become the British WKN light welterweight
champion. Looks like a good one for a rematch, come on Jag
get it on in England.
A big thanks for Jagtor and Barinder from Leceister Kickboxing
for travelling to Belfast on short notice when Stuart’s
original opponent Mickey Shields dropped out.
A young Motherwell man is celebrating an unlikely British
title after beating the belt-holder on his home patch at the
Park Ave at the weekend.
Super Cruiserweight David Ford only
stepped in to face Carrickfergus’s
Peter Rusk after the number one contender and former
champion Darren Thompson pulled out. It was just 24 hours
before Saturday’s fight that Thompson withdrew with
a recurrence of an old shoulder injury. The Motherwell man
Ford - appeared to be there to make up the numbers, but performed
a classic snatch and grab – he was roundly beaten for
three rounds before landing a match-winner in the final round
stopping the title holder.
“It was an amazing performance,” said event promoter
Billy Murray. “Young David had a good reputation and
we were delighted he stood in at the last minute to allow
a title defence to go ahead. I thought he’d give a good
account of himself, but not like this. Peter Rusk was a worthy
champion and even though he forced three standing counts for
Ford and he was deducted a point for a spinning back elbow,
he held on. Then from nowhere, in the final few seconds of
the final round, he caught Rusk and the ref stepped in. It
was a staggering fight, some say that the ref was a bit too
quick to stop the fight, but the referee is there for the
safety of the boys – I have no complaints.”
David’s trainer Gary Langford said, “ That may
have been a shocker to fight fans in Belfast but not to me,
I know what kind of power and heart Scotland’s new British
champion has, I’m delighted for him.” Mr Langford
went on to say. "David will have his first defence in
mid August at home in Motherwell at the Hilton hotel, and
we’ll return the favour to Rusk for giving us the opportunity,
just to show that David Ford is the real deal.”
It was a night of mixed success for Scotland.
Alexander White, also from Motherwell, was stripped
of his Lightweight British title after he showed up a staggering
five kilos overweight. The rep from sanctioning body the WKN
awarded the title to White’s opponent Aubrey
Tarr. However Tarr will have to make his first mandatory
defence of his belt AGAINST White at the event in August.
That is, of course, should White make the weight.
“I want to salute all the fighters,” said Murray.
“I’m delighted the ProKick men did so well. Many
of them had been going through Billy’s bootcamp –
three weeks of 6.30am runs and circuits – and their
superior fitness told in the ring. I’ll be bringing
the Bootcamp back for the next event. I want to thank the
medical staff who stopped a couple of fighters getting into
the ring when they felt they were carrying injuries. WE pride
ourselves on doing things by the book in WKN
sanctioned shows and this was no exception.”
On a day that had seen boxing cancelled in the Ulster Hall,
over 1,000 kickboxing fans packed into the Park Avenue Hotel
during the two shows. Murray was delighted.
“It was brilliant, really brilliant,” he said.
“We set ourselves a very tough brief making this promotion
– these two promotions – work. But the desire
of the fighters was there and fans reaction was wonderful.
People told me I was a fool to put on a promotion during the
World Cup, but Belfast’s kickboxing fans are loyal and
when you have a card with the names we have, I knew they would
Here's the results in brief:
WKN British light-Welterweight match 4x2
Stuart Jess (Dromore-NI) Winner on points
Vs Barinder Singh (English - Champion)
WKN British Super-Cruiserweight 4x2 -
Peter Rusk (Carrickfergus Champion) Vs David Ford Winner
4th round (Scotland )
British WKN Middleweight Low leg kick title 4x2
Mark Hennessy (Belfast) Winner 2nd round
KKO Vs Jackie Byrnie (Scotland)
WKN Celtic Super-Welterweight title 4x2
Ian Young (Belfast) Winner on points
Vs Steve Peatrie (Dundee champion)
WKN Prestige Light-Middleweight Full-Contact 4x2
Andrew Grimason (Belfast) Winner points
Vs Alan Thomas (Aberdeen)
WKN British Bantamweight title 7x2
Alexander White Vs Aubrey Tarr (Belfast) (Champion)
Alexander failed to make the weight and was stripped of the
title, Tarr is now the intrim British champion however his
first defence will have to be against White.
WKN British Super Heavyweight title 4x2
Martin Connolly (Carrickfergus) Vs Steve Bonner (Aberdeen
A disappointed Martin Connolly failed
the pre fight medical as the doctor advised him not to fight.
This was to be a British title defence for the Aberdeen
fighter. Unfortunately the Prokick fighter Martin Connolly
didn't get his chance against the un-beaten Steve Bonner.
Mr Bonner was understanding about the whole situation. Thanks
The WKN have asked all regional promoters to intensify the
pre fight medical to bring them to the highest standard as
safety for the fighters is paramount.
Two other fighter on the day show who also failed the pre
fight medical in a non title bout - John Miskelly from Steel
'It was a gladiatorial clash
of the newest fighters around and all the greats'.