UCC Fighters Representing Ireland
The WAKO Irish Open is the world’s largest Martial Arts tournament, taking place in the first weekend of March every year. With a limit of 4,000 competitors, this year’s competition featured a total of 3,982 fighters from 35 countries. UCC sent 7 fighters up to the competition to represent both UCC and Ireland on the big stage.
The 2 main categories are light contact and points fighting. Light contact is a 2 minute fight with light contact gloves and the most points scored decides the winner. Points fighting is 2 minutes where the fight is stopped and the referees will award a point to whoever has hit their opponent first each time.
First up for UCC was Alex O’Callaghan in advanced 74kg light contact. Despite being UCC’s most advanced kickboxer, Alex was eliminated by a narrow margin in his first fight by a Norwegian competitor. The Scandinavian was more skilled with his hands and used that to his advantage. O’Callaghan also competed in the open weight class Grand Champion event but lost to an impressive German fighter “It’s disappointing coming up and not bringing anything back but training for next year starts this week”.
At the same time and in the same category was Arnaud Tchoubane who had his first fight back in the Irish Open since he won the Intermediate category 2 years ago. His opponent was tall, with long reach and Arnaud found it difficult to get in range of the Hungarian for much of the fight. Tchoubane also plays soccer with UCC J1 and struggles with a long term knee injury but assured “I am planning to return next year, strong, fast and well prepared.”
Next up was Tristan Real in the novice light contact 70kg category. Tristan did very well at Intervarsity in CIT this year after a long break from fighting but this was his first ever international competition. He could not get a win against his opponents this weekend after some very good fighting. Tristan later commented that he “can improve on dealing with pressure and using my boxing more”, because his opponent showed more aggression and managed to disrupt Tristan’s more kick-based approach. This fighter will certainly come back stronger next year so keep an eye on him.
Ciara Murray was the only female competitor to travel to the competition from UCC this year. After defeat to a quick Dutch fighter Ciara was awarded with her first international bronze medal, a huge achievement for UCC and for her having only started kickboxing in September 2017. Murray explained how by competing at such a high level she learned more than she would have in months of just training. The Carrigaline native also beamed that receiving that medal was “Top five feelings of my life”.
A total of 7 students competed for UCC in the competition, each promising that they would be back to the Irish Open next year while also expressed their sincere gratitude to club coaches Colin, Craig and Joe. The next major event for the club is their annual fight night, to be held on the 13th of March, in Devere Hall in UCC. All funds raised go to the UCC Cancer Society, it’s a great chance to see what the sport of kickboxing is all about!