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“Kickboxer Darren Dougan would love to hear his supporters ”

Derry kickboxer Darren Dougan  ready for action tomorrow in the LoupDerry kickboxer Darren Dougan would love to hear his supporters in full voice when he challenges for the Celtic super-middleweight belt at The Loup tomorrow. But the popular store manager cannot because like fellow sports star, snooker’s Joe Swail, he hears nothing without his hearing aids.
Dougan, a Tae-Jitsu expert, was born with 30 per cent hearing in both ears but that hasn’t stopped him making noises as a one-time promising sprinter, Gaelic footballer, martial artist and now kickboxer.
He will challenge Paul Smith at The Loup in only his 11th career fight, a remarkable achievement for someone who just began kickboxing a year ago.
When he goes between the ropes, Dougan hears nothing. He relies on hand signals from his coach, former four-time world champion Billy Murray and from the fight referee.
But he says he has a big advantage over his opponents.
“It’s hard enough picking up some sounds but with headgear protection it’s even harder,” he said.
“It may be hard to imagine for most people but when I’m getting into the ring I cannot hear a thing and no matter how loud the crowd is during the fight, I don’t know what’s going on outside the ropes.
“I feel that I have a big advantage because I am not swayed but noise or emotion and my only focus is on the guy facing me. I rely on the referee stepping in front of me if he wants my attention and it’s the same for my corner men.
“If you can imagine that a television’s top volume is 40, then I need it to be turned up to 38 before I can comfortably hear it. That’s what I have to contend with when I’m in the ring.”
Throughout his life the 34-year-old has battled on with impaired hearing, never complaining. Now he has found the perfect competitive sport that overcomes what was a disadvantage in team events.
“I wish I had gone into competitive kickboxing a lot sooner,” he added.
“I have studied Tae-Jitsu for 12 years and I am now an instructor in the art. But I always had a liking for kickboxing even though I was a bit apprehensive about competing I’m glad I took the opportunity.
“It’s hard to believe I’m now challenging for a Celtic title. It’s a massive fight for me and I’m very excited about it.”
Billy Murray isn’t looking forward to the fight as much as Dougan: “The day after Darren’s fights I am the one who is suffering because I lose my voice every time” said Murray.
“I have to shout but even then I don’t think that works. I bang the canvas and scream and I’ve been told off by judges in the past. We have to explain ourselves before each fight!”
Murray is confident Dougan will become a champion on Sunday.
“Darren has totally dedicated himself to the sport and to winning. He is a wonderful person and a good guy to have around the Prokick Gym.”
Sunday’s first bell sounds at 3.30pm. Tickets for Mayhem II are available now, priced at £7.50 adult and £2.50 for children.

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