Though Belfast has gone UFC crazy this week, it was a more traditional martial art that packed in the fans to a city hotel on Friday night.
The latest ProKick promoted kickboxing event showed again why Northern Ireland is now the accepted European powerbase for the sport. The night’s nine bouts, which pitched the cream of Northern Irish talent against that from Italy and Germany, was so over-scribed that there was a lockout with an estimated 200 fans turned away from the door.
Those lucky enough to secure a seat were treated to an incredible night of combat as the Northern Irish fighters – all based at former four time world champion Billy Murray’s ProKick stable – all won their bouts in an unprecedented rout.
Most pleasing for Murray – and the many hundreds of fans packed into the Park Avenue Hotel– was seeing three European titles won by the local fighters, swelling the trophy cupboard atProKick even further.
“It was a night to savour,” said a delighted Murray. “Our boys were up against the very best in Europe. They were facing national and international champions and though I knew we could give a good account of ourselves, I must confess I never thought we’d do it nine nil. It’s hard to pick out a highlight amongst so many brave, glorious results, but it was great to see Ian Young secure the European belt –he has been through a tough few months but never let his head drop.
"It was also good to see young Mark Hennessey begin to fulfil his huge potential by defending the European middleweight title from a very very tough Italian. And great for Stuart Jess to bounce back from defeat in Germany to take the European belt in a rematch against the man who beat him.
“All our ProKick guys can hold their heads up high. This is why Northern Ireland is one of the top players in European kickboxing. We have the talent, the training and the hunger.
Next, we move up to more world belts.”
On a great night for local sport, world champion Gary Hamilton was also triumphant, this time in a non-title event. He beat Italian Massigliano Cannistraro fighting under the very demanding Thai rules – a discipline for only the elite of world kickboxing. His points win now sets him up for another defence of his world featherweight crown, probably by the end of the year.
New Belfast Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers was ringside at the show and praised what he saw.
“This is a wonderful sporting exhibition in which the incredible talent of Belfast was allowed to shine again,” he said. “We need more of these!”
For full details of each bout – and a chance to watch it again – click on to the DVD preview
A big thanks to everyone who helped make this event a special evening, from the traveling fighters, trainers to the organisers of the event, sponsors and to you the fight fans!
Report by William Bruce
Pictures by Fran Spence
Click here for the DVD preview
The Italian Job II
Results in Brief
WKN Prestige bout - kickboxing rules Lightweight 63kg - 5x2
Gary Hamilton Winner points (NI) Vs. Massigliano Cannistraro (Italy)
WKN European title Kickboxing rules Middleweight 75kg - 4x2
Mark Hennessy Winner points (NI)Vs Stefano Deregibus (Italy)
WKN European title Kickboxing rules Super welterweight 69kg - 4x2
Ian Young Winner points (NI) Vs. Collin Bosompen (Ger)
Other Prokick fighters who competed against a Swiss & German select where:
Northern Ireland Vs Switzerland & Germany
WKN European Amateur title Super welterweight 69kg - 4x2 Full-contact rules
Stuart Jess Winner TKO 1st Round (NI) Vs Marcel Tratnik (Ger)
light welterweight 62kg - 3x2 Kickboxing rules
Aubrey Tarr (NI) Vs Perparim Bitiqi Winner points (Swiss)
Lightmiddleweight 73kg - 3x2 Full-contact rules
Barrie Oliver Winner points (NI)Vs Nels Hackstein (Ger)
Supe rmiddleweight 76kg - 4x2 Full-contact rules
Darren Dougan Winner TKO 3rd (NI)Vs Erwin Rotacker (Ger)
3x2 Full-contact rules
Wayne McCormick Winner points (NI) Vs Valery Karst (Swiss)
Special junior leg kick match has been arranged:
David Bird Winner (Prokick) Vs. Johnny Glover (Steelheels)
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