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When planning to enter a sparring competition, full contact fighting, kick, box or Thai, you must train for the fight.

Fight Training Programme For Beginners

Do you want to Fight, then here’s what you need to do. (ProKickers, meet us up at back gates of Stormont 9am 5th NOV) ‘Train hard fight easy’ Well, that’s an old saying but I never believe or say a fight was easy because the fight is the end result of all the weeks and in some cases even months of hard work and sacrifice. So, if it ends early in the first round then it’s a bonus.
Don’t forget the hard work – blood, sweat and in some cases tears that helped achieve you the victory!

For any martial artists or fighter regardless of the art form, it is important in each evolution of training to know what you are doing, and why. You should change your training routine to match the specific challenge that lies ahead.

Cardio is the basic foundation of everything you do in a fight. If you have no, or a poor cardio, you can't fight. If you have no cardio, you won't even be able to train properly either. Bottom line is the more hours you spend on your preparation for example; techniques, cardio, sparring and conditioning the better your fight will go. So, you will need cardio to carry you through your training sessions. The better your cardio, the more you will be able to train in a day. The more you train, the better you will be. Most knock-outs or stoppages, believe it or not, come from a lack of cardio and poor fitness. That is why you rarely see knockouts in the early part of a fight (unless it is a clean shot). When a fighter is fresh and has great fitness, he/she can withstand a tremendous amount of blows.

Without cardio a fighter also can't defend himself. When you can't breathe, it is hard to move out of the way of a kick or punch. Maybe you see it coming, but you are just too tired to do anything about it. ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to Fail’

There are many ingredients needed to make a fighter, here’s a few more parts required to ‘Fight

Many students believe they are training for a fight when they practice kicking or punching a bag. But kicking and punching are only two of the many aspects of fighting which have to be trained.

The focus pads (where the teacher wears the pads on his hands or forearms) is an excellent training method, because it gives the teacher an opportunity to watch every single technique which is thrown and gives the coach the opportunity to improve the fighter.

Shadow boxing is where the student goes through the fight in his head, attacking and defending against his imagined adversary. Shadow boxing involves movement, footwork, combinations, and creativity. Always do shadow boxing first, as a warm up.

Sparring is one of the least used yet most trainers believe is the key to success and the most important providing the above is fulfilled. The Sparring is sometimes the most abused training of the training methods. Many gyms have Friday night fights, or sparring, just once a week. Most students tend to think sparring is a mini fight, which will have a winner and a looser. This is completely wrong. Sparring is a chance for you to practice your combinations on a live opponent, without worrying about getting hurt. There should be no injuries in sparring. And there should be two winners. Always try to spar with people better than you. Spar easy. Don't injure your opponent. Spar cleanly and have respect and you will both benefit.

Fighting has so many aspects. Fight technique, timing, rhythm, movement, strategy and ring technique must be taught and practiced. Nothing should be left to chance.

Training in Brief

Cardio: It is nearly impossible to lose a fight if you have better cardio than your opponent. For a three-round fight, you should train to do five to six hard rounds.

Road Work:  Every boxer/kickboxer is different as some prefer morning running early mornings whilst others like the afternoon or evening sessions. This is due to the fact that everyone’s body clock is different and is what determines whether you’re an Owl or an Early Bird. Identify which one you are based on your sleep patterns, and aim to run when you feel at your most alert. Start with 3 miles every other day building up to every day for five or six times a week on the last 4 weeks before fight-night. Work your way to a five or a seven miler on the sixth day, rest the seventh. As time goes on alternate your runs and incorporate a sprint routine into your program. 

Combinations: throwing isolated punches or kicks will not win a fight. You must practice throwing a series of kicks and punches together, in disciplined combinations.

Bag Work: The heavy bag is good for building strength and power.

Shadow boxing: The student goes through the fight in his head, attacking and defending against his imagined adversary.

Sparring: is not a fight. And there should be no winner or loser. Sparring is an opportunity to practice more difficult and complicated manoeuvres on a real person, without having to worry about getting injured.

Fight technique: Timing, rhythm, movement, strategy and ring technique must be taught and practiced. We all plan our holidays to where ever in detail. Plan your preparation and fight the same way. The only surprise should be when you win in the first round, instead of in the third.

‘Train hard fight easy’ Well, that’s an old saying but I never believe or say a fight was easy because the fight is the end result of all the weeks and in some cases even months of hard work and sacrifice. So, if it ends early in the first round then it’s a bonus. Don’t forget the hard work – blood, sweat and in some cases tears that helped achieve you the victory!

The mental and the state-of-mind of a fighter, is just as important as the physical – Body and Mind must be one. What I mean by that is prepared with no distractions.

Sample workout for a three-round fight
- 3- to 5-mile run – 3 to 4 times a weeks, alternative days from classes
- Sprints to help explosive speed - 4 by laps of the gym with 45 seconds rest or 10 x 100 meter sprints, your jog back is your rest repeat 10 times.
- 2 nights training at your normal class
- 1 night in sparring class
- 45 minute of lightweights but fast or floor conditioning once or twice a week - on a day you are not kickboxing training

 Typical session
Warm-up 3x2 minutes of shadow boxing, 30 second rest
6 minutes skipping rope, no rest
Working to improving your technique, syllabus work with class
4 rounds of pads (two of just hands, two of hands and feet together)
Some basic technique
2 minutes conditioning full speed various exercise

Finally, Listen to your body it will tell you when to slow-up if fatigue starts to creep in. Although it is a fight you are preparing for, there’s No gain without some pain in the fight game! <br>
Respect Ous!

Image Gallery
Monday's camp got off to an easy start and will increase as the week goes on.
Ultimate Boot-Camp for Lords Of The Ring
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These moves in this video are demonstrated by, #JohnnySwiftSmith #JakeMcCready & Swiss born #KillianEmery - the narration by ProKick’s senior coach #BillyMurray .

Kickboxing Yellow Belt Syllabus on Video

ProKickers, we’re happy to say, here it is: The first official video of #ProKick #kickboxing moves for the first level #Grading Syllabus - Yellow-Belt. On average it normally would take 8-12 weeks to be proficient for this level, and that is training one to two-times a week. We are please that we can not just answer these questions but show you a video for the most frequently asked questions RE kickboxing grading moves.

Here are just a few of the most frequently asked questions RE kickboxing syllabus and grading moves:

- what moves do I need to get my yellow belt in kickboxing?

- how long will it take for me to get my yellow belt?

- do I need to spar or fight to move up a level and get a yellow belt?

All the moves for a ProKick yellow belt are depicted on this video. On average it normally would take 8-12 week to be proficient for this first level / yellow belt, training one to two-times  a week. No, there is no contact in this level.

This video will act as an aid to all ProKick members and all types of martial art fans. However, it is best to find yourself a good reputable club and coach when practising any style of kickboxing and martial arts.

The set moves here are demonstrated by three ProKick students and fighters, #JohnnySwiftSmith #JakeMcCready & Swiss born #KillianEmery - with the narration by ProKick’s founder & senior coach #BillyMurray .

A grading is when Kickboxing students, non-contact and contact, are assessed through a series of levels / grades, with the base level being White Belt, through ten levels, finally reaching a Dan grade at black belt, which is equivalent, if you like, to a degree level in KickBoxing. This type of achievement would take, on average, between six and eight years with a training regime of on average of three to four times a week.

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Our 2nd #video on #basic #ProKick pad drills for #beginners is instrusted by #BillyMurray and demonstrated here in picture by #JohnnySwiftSmith kicking both from

Billy Murray on Beginner Boxing and knee drills

Part 2 of Basic boxing and Knee striking drills by Belfast’s Billy Murray. Here’s a follow on from Part No.1 of Basic Boxing drills for the Beginner - Our 2nd #video on #basic #ProKick pad drills for #beginners is demonstrated by #BillyMurray and #JohnnySwiftSmith from - This time featured, it’s boxing drills incorporating the use of the knee strike.

No.2 of our Boxing drills is when we incorporate a little knee action for the beginner level 1 & Advanced beginner (For study alongside the tutorial video).
So you’ve finished & survived 6 weeks of basic training at a ProKick beginners course, this is the follow on. In the next level, 'Advance Beginners’ you will incorporate a little contact (don’t worry, not on each other!) Glove boxing leading to pad work - a few simple basic boxing & knee drills for the beginner. This will help with building confidence, speed and technique for both the boxer and the pad person.

Glove Boxing & knee pad work:
This includes, upper-cuts, hook punches along with knee strikes, combinations drills with or out-out a partner. You and a partner will take turns alternating between holding pads and punching. Or practice on your own in shadow boxing drills routine.
Important, at this level: Do not hit hard, move around, keep talking to minimal and fix technique constantly throughout the practice of these boxing & knee drills.

Jab (lead left hand)
Knee (starting with left or right)

Double jab
Knee ( the opposite knee strike every time)

1- 2 punch ( Known as left-right punch, Right-left if southpaw)
Knee - ( the opposite knee strike every time)

1- 2 then add a left hook
Knee - ( the opposite knee strike every time)

Right Upper-cut Left-hook - short form Up-hook
Knee - ( the opposite knee strike every time)

Up - hook add a right (left if southpaw)
Knee - ( the opposite knee strike every time)

Click here to see part 1 - Basic boxing drills

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Pad Training at Prokick

Beginner Boxing Drills

So you’ve finished & survived 6 weeks of basic training at a ProKick beginners course. In the next level, ‘advance beginners’ you will incorporate a little contact (don’t worry, no on each other) Glove boxing leading to pad work - a few simple basic boxing drills for the beginner. This will building confidence, speed and technique for both the boxer and the pad person.

Boxing drills for the beginner level 1 & Advanced beginner (For study alongside the tutorial video.

Glove Boxing & pad work:

This includes, upper-cuts, hook punches along with combinations drills with a partner.

Basic boxing moves:

You and a partner will take turns alternating between holding pads and punching.
Important, at this level: Do not hit hard, move around, keep talking to minimal and fix technique constantly throughout the practice of these boxing drills.

Jab (lead left hand)
Double jab
1- 2 punch
1- 2 then add a left hook
Up - hook
Up - hook add a right (left if southpaw)

Click the video below to see the drills above

Check-out part II Basic Boxing & Knee Video

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For todays athletes diet is key

Sensible Eating Plan for fighters

This is a diet plan that ProKick’s Billy Murray followed from as early as 1980 up to 1991 that helped him maintain a fight weight of 67kilo and also in 2006, almost 30 years later helped maintain a weight of 72kilo for his last charity fight in 2006. Obviously it may not suit everyone however it can act as a guideline. Note, you can have the best diet plan in the world but not have the will power to follow it through, it’s really down to how much you really want it then and only then it will work for you. For today’s athletes diet is key, every athlete should go through their own diet analysis and have their own eating plan designed specifically for them. Remember to drink plenty of water.

Follow the chart six days a week and on the seventh, substitute a meal, by giving yourself a little treat that you enjoy. (Do not over indulge but keep to sensible eating). The seventh day can be any day, Sat; Sun Tue or Wed but keep to this day and don’t change your pattern.
If you have a medical condition, consult your doctor before you start the sensible eating chart.

Choose from the following
- Breakfast
- Your choice of cereal with skimmed milk
IE:- Cornflakes
     - Albran
     - Muesli
    - Porridge
  -Toast with low fat spread or honey
  -Liquid (water, skimmed milk or Tea)

Mid-morning break
  -Fruit or yoghurt and liquids

  -Sandwiches (whole meal bread with low fat spread)
  -Chicken or tuna (sandwich)
  -One piece of fruit

  -Any combination of baked potato, basmati rice, salad, grilled chicken, fish, tuna or turkey.
  -Fruit or low fat yoghurt
  -Liquids (skimmed milk or water)

Supper (NOT AFTER 9:30pm)
  -One round of brown bread toasted with low fat spread or honey or a small banana.

Stay off
  -Chocolate, sweets, crisps,
  -chips, fried food,
  -butter, cheese,
  -beer or alcohol

If you feel hungry between meals carry a carrot or a tub of tuna in brine to eat when peckish.

Furthermore, a good multi- vitamin should be taken!

Training Programme


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The old saying is so ture - The early bird catches the worm!

Early Morning Training Tips

Hi Prokick members and web surfers - our recent early morning fitness ‘Boot Camp’ for enthusiastic wannabe fighters and hard-core fitness fanatics has enthused us to write a little that may help others find and feel the benefits of rising early to start some early morning sports activities.

Why Work Out in the Morning? There are plenty of benefits to physical activity first thing in the morning.

"Early morning workouts revs up your metabolism, jump start your energy level and accelerate your ability to burn up calories," said an exercise physiologist.

"Early morning workouts give you a chance to put the world on hold for an hour and think about the upcoming events and activities of the day, or think about whatever you want," said Murray. "Exercise also gets the endorphins flowing, so when you finish you are relaxed and in a good form to start the rest of your day."

Other Sports experts also agree the benefits of early morning exercise far outweigh the extra risks you may face.

"In our cardiac rehabilitation programs, experts don't see any increased risk from morning exercise," reported Gordon Blackburn, program director of cardiac rehabilitation. "Just be sure if you have heart disease that you first talk over any early morning exercise plans with your doctor."

There are plenty of practical reasons for choosing early morning workouts.

"If I make myself get up early in the morning and get into the fitness center or hit the road by as early as 4.30 a.m. to get my workout done, I don't have to worry about how I'm going to find the time during the rest of the day to exercise," said Mr Hopkins, a long-time runner and veteran of 65 marathons and accomplished distance runner.

"More and more people are finding the benefit of exercising before starting work and that’s no bad thing - they can’t all be wrong. I’ve been early morning training from nearly 35 years on and off when it is as regular as clock-work im in the best shape in mind and in body and that starts the day off on a positive note before I head into work. I really think the psychological and physiological benefits outweigh minuses," Said Billy Murray a four time four weight world kickboxing champion.

Billy Murray sees to it that the doors of the ProKick Gym open before 5:45 a.m. and supervises the members and wannabe fighters to start at 6 am sharp.

Part II of this article will come later.

Billy’s Boot Camp - VIDEO
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Healthy eating for a healthier lifestyle

To eat healthy is to live healthy

Healthy eating, is a simple process. Many of us know what we should and shouldn’t eat. There’s a lot of information available on the web which many people research but they still don’t follow the basic guidelines. Basic question you need to ask yourself: Do you really want to be healthy, eat well and live a healthier lifestyle through what we eat and exercise?

Over the next few weeks we aim to bring you a variety of healthy eating plans – from one for the hardened competitor/sports person, the fitness fanatics, the ‘I need to lose weight fast’ or ‘I need to gain weight’ and not forgetting the non carnivorous of us on the planet the Vegetarians and Vegans to those just wanting to eat healthy and maintain their lifestyle.

So keep your eyes peeled here and in the meantime here are some very simple rules to follow for the sportsperson.

Eating a healthy balanced diet will provide you with all the nutrients you need to take part in kickboxing or indeed any sport or activity of your choice. This means eating a wide variety of foods.

The best way to get the most from your training is to:

- be the right weight for your height

– drink plenty of fluids

– eat enough carbohydrate to keep your body sustained during exercise

– eat plenty of wholegrain, fruit and veg and moderate amounts of milk, yoghurt and cheese, lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and pulses (beans, lentils etc)

-  eat enough food for your level of activity. If you eat too little then you won't be able to keep up your exercise levels and you will feel fatigued.

If you eat well, sleep well and exercise regularly there is no reason you can’t fulfil the goals you set out for yourself.

Many day-to-day foods are now fortified with vitamins and minerals, particularly orange juice and cereal but if you feel that you are not eating a balanced diet then it is best to obtain a good multi vitamin but these do not replace a good diet and should only be taken as a supplement.

Meals timing around workouts are crucial and just as important as what you eat that’s if are interested in maintaining energy. The first couple of hours following exercise, muscles refuel their glycogen stores up to twice as fast as normal therefore it is important to eat the right carbohydrate-containing foods as soon as possible after your exercise.

Healthy eating plans for fighters.

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ProKick new fighter Ruth McCormack talks about the hard times growing up over weight depressed to life is great

Ruth McCormack hits back

It takes a lot to climb into a boxing ring and fight, here’s one brief story of a young women’s journey to become a fighter in the ring. These amazing before-and-after images show a woman who has transformed her lifestyle thanks to an intense training and nutrition plan. But what they don’t show is woman who has battled throughout her most important school days and adulthood as a victim of bullying.

On March 29, Queen’s University graduate Ruth McCormack will take her fight to the next level – and will go between the ropes for her debut kickboxing bout in Belfast, finally rewarding herself for stopping a spiralling bout of depression in her life.

RUTH MCCORMACK before and after pictures

Ruth will headline in The Divas show in the city’s Holiday Inn Hotel, less than a year after she first entered the dilapidated Prokick Gym in east Belfast.

The 36-year-old, who is now studying for a Masters Degree in Environmental Toxicology, said: “I cannot believe it has come to this; that I will be kickboxing in a competitive show. I would never have dreamed this to be possible – I have finally found the person that was supressed and depressed and I am ready to unleash many years of frustration.”

Ruth realised she was fat when she looked back at holiday pictures It was when she saw a holiday picture of herself did Ruth first realise she has piled on weight after leaving school. She weighed a whopping 90kg – a far from healthy weight for a woman standing just 5-foot 2-inches tall.

She added: “I suffered throughout school but hadn’t noticed the weight gain or what I was doing to myself as a result of the depression that came with being bullied. I am an only child, and I guess I went to school as an introverted character. I did not mix well with other students and was felt socially inept. I was an easy target for bullies and I got more than my share.

“Every morning going in to school I would shake with anxiety. I would leave depressed at the end of the day, dreading what was to follow the next day. I focused on my education and did well. I left with 10 GCSEs and three A-levels but I suffered throughout it and could not wait to leave school.”

University was somewhat more welcoming for Carrickfergus-born Ruth but the impact of her Grammar school days was still taking its toll.

“I felt relief when I finished school,” said added. “It felt like chains had been removed, even though I knew I was going to face another few years in the company of students at University and that the same thing could happen all over again.

“The bullying had such an impact on me that I had to go through counselling. I think I must have been at an all-time low. It was a chronic period to have to go through.”

The turning point for Ruth came when she saw a holiday snap and had to double-check it was her in the picture.

She added: “When I saw myself in a picture I didn’t realise how much weight I had put on. I was shocked. I told myself ‘this has to stop’.

“My friends were supportive, and one of them recommended I try out the Prokick Gym because she had seen people of all ages and sizes go into it for kickboxing classes. I was dreading it but picked up the courage to give it a go.

The new Ruth McCormack in action

“The welcoming atmosphere in the gym helped and it kept me involved. No-one knew anything about me – and they didn’t know I had been bullied. They just took me as another member wanting to learn a martial art and get fit.

“I ended up mixing in with other women in the gym and now we train together and we’re about to fight together; it’s an amazing feeling. I have sisters and brothers all around me.”

Ironically, Ruth’s coach, former world kickboxing champion Billy Murray, was also a victim of school bullying.

He said: “I got fed up being bullied – it spurred me to take on a martial art. I tried a few things before I discovered kickboxing. I hear lots of stories from members about why they have joined Prokick but it always brings me back when someone tells me they want to learn how to defend themselves because of bullying.

“Ruth is an inspiration – she is proof that there is a positive choice a person can make for themselves in the face of bullying or lack of confidence.”

On March 29, Ruth will go between the ropes weighing in at just 58kg – fighting fit and ready for the next round of whatever life throws at her.

The Total Diva ProKick LadyKillers - L-R Ruth, Cathy, Samantha and Rowena all ready for action.
The ProKick Total Diva LadyKillers Team

A big thanks to ProKick Alex McGreevy, for words, Collette O'Neill for photographs and Ruth for sharing her story.



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Alex McGreevy take time to write about his experience being back at ProKick Billy's BootCamp in Belfast ( Alex in white t/Shirt back at work old style)

Alex McGreevy on BootCamp

What sounded like a man’s deep voice saying ‘go back to bed’, was a howling wind that whistled up the driveway as I clicked the key to open a cold car at 5:30am. Writes Alex McGreevy:  I’m not totally sure that it wasn’t a voice. Certainly, there was a repeated question on my mind, ‘what are you doing’?

I was going back; that’s what I was doing. Going back to Boot Camp. Going back to the war-torn Prokick Gym in a sleepy east Belfast street. Going back to faces that I knew would offer another question, ‘what has you back’?

It all started with a group-text reminder that Boot Camp was, well, rebooting on Monday morning at 6am. Sharp. I was in a fix. I needed to step-up training after a winter lapse complemented by man ‘flu and Quality Street.

And so it begins. Little has changed. The gym is still crumbling. The colliding scents of dampness and body odour are a grim reminder of many seasons, many aims, goals and journeys. Among the group of around 30, there are a handful of women preparing for fights at the end of the month. This Boot Camp, to them, is akin to a light breakfast. To some others, like me, it’s an opportunity before the school-run and work, to ‘get going again’.

‘Let’s shake it out’ yelps coach Billy Murray, bang on 6am. No easing into class with a quick chat about how nature somehow overnight switched us all back to Autumn.

The mind knew the drill. The body knew it too but realised after 10 minutes had been some time since it last danced on the padded Prokick floor.

Billy Murray enjoys this too much. What man in his right mind, in his 50s, with grandchildren, would be in the gym yelling instructions from 6am – before embarking on a full day of training and classes and returning home just hours before the very next day…?

45-minutes of non-stop stamina-sapping drills later and we are done. Literally.

A short time later I’m making the kids’ breakfast.

‘I was at Boot Camp this morning kids, from 6am’… I proudly mention.

“Aye you were…” replies my daughter.

“Aye, I was. And I’ll do it again on Wednesday and Friday.”

“You’re mental,” she says.

Maybe I am. Maybe I am.

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Samantha Robb

The Samantha Robb Big Interview

Samantha Robb, World champion fighter has spared a few precious minutes to talk about herself and her training. Samantha gives real insight into the importance of trust when training and has a strong but peaceful presence both in the ring and outside of it. As a competitor her fight-record is unblemished as she remains undefeated yet still managing to hold on to her humble beginnings - Robb is the ultimate ambassador for the sport.

Samantha Robb, talks with Julie Pettigrew in-between a training session for the BIG ProKick Interview:

How did you first get started in kickboxing?    

I was running marathons and wanted something to keep me fit over winter so I signed up to a beginner’s class and fell in love with kickboxing. I fell in love with ProKick as well, the atmosphere; the character of this place is unreal. 

When did you realise that you wanted to fight?  Is it a moment you can pinpoint?  

I figured out that I wanted to fight when I watched the ProKick 20th Anniversary Show. At the time my family were a bit like hey we`ll see where this goes `cause I`ve always got this grand new scheme that I`m gonna kick off, but I knew I wanted to fight. I`ve always been a MMA fan and grew up watching Jean-Claude Van Damme and stuff like that. I think when you grow up watching martial arts you can have a notion of yourself doing that too. 

How does your family feel about it now 

They`re really supportive, they know when I make up my mind to do something I generally do it. At the start they thought maybe I`d get fed up with it, but now they`re so proud of me. It’s changed me in a way. I`ve found such a passion for it, I think it`s something that I`ve been looking for, for a long time. It ticks so many boxes for me and my family see that. They see the dedication, the excitement, the buzz, and then the achievement. 

Have you travelled far with Prokick? 

I`ve been to Switzerland twice, Malta, London, Galway. Yeah, I`ve been to loads of different spots in Europe with Prokick. I`ve been really fortunate, good opportunities have kept coming up since I started. 

How does `away` compare to a match at `home`?  

I feel the pressure more at home.  At home, it’s lovely to be able to show your family what you do. When you go away they haven`t shared the experience, and can`t see how you`ve progressed. My first fight at home was December last year, my last fight at home was in September, and the improvement in my fights, in my technique, was really clear to them. I feel the pressure more at home, but in a good way. 

Do you get much support from the crowd when fighting away from home?  

There`s no expectation from the crowd, they don`t care if you win or lose. I`m a lot more relaxed away from home. 

Have you been injured in any of your fights?  

Big black eyes and bruises, but that`s just hurts. I`ve never been injured and I know a lot of fighters have. Touch wood - for me it hasn`t been an issue. 

Do you think women are naturally less aggressive than men?   

Not at all.  Even in life in general, given the right situation any woman I know would fight tooth and nail for something she believed in, or for someone that she cares for and loves. It’s not true at all. You know the saying the female of the species is more deadly than the maleI believe that.  In fighter terms it takes a particular type of guy to step into the ring, and it takes a particular type of woman too. Aggression hasn’t really got anything to do with it. It’s about drive, and hunger, and being able to push yourself to your absolute limits. 

Which opponent stands out most to you?  

Lucienne Laferla in Malta. That was my second fight and I just remember her walking towards me and thinking what am I doing here!  We both weighed in at 70 kilos but she looked more like 80. Then the ref says `GO` and you just do it. I loved that fight, it was brilliant. I enjoyed Malta, the buzz, the adrenaline of the whole experience, and fighting in a circus tent was really cool. 

Another that stands out was a fight I had in London, my only draw. When we went over we didn’t know the girl had a British and European title, and the first time I saw her I thought she`s so young, I can`t hit her. I totally underestimated her.  She came out like a firecracker…big time! I went back a second time and beat her, and took the title off the champ. It was a close fight. Looking back I`d give her the first and second round, but after that it was my fight. She came out in the first round to knock me out. I knew that. She couldn’t maintain the momentum, I knew that too. I`d love to fight her again, I feel I would beat her more decisively next time. 

How hard is it to ignore social conditioning (in regards to being ladylike) when you step into the ring?   

I was very fortunate because I was always taught to stand up for myself, that I had an opinion, and that it mattered. I come from a long line of feisty, determined women who flouted social norms in times when it wasn’t cool. My grandmother was a single mother in the 60`s. It was not socially acceptable then, and she dealt with the impact of that in her life. Then, my mum with it in hers, it made them fighters in their own way. So I`m very fortunate to come from a line of women who believe to thine own self be true. My mum always told us to do what we wanted to do. The sky was always the limit for us growing up, we were always encouraged.  

What advice would you give to any girls out there who`re interested in training to fight?  

Just go for it. Do it. The important thing is to find the right place, I`ve been very fortunate in finding ProKick and would suggest to any young woman wanting to fight, to go and find the feel of the place. Make sure it’s all legit and that they`re looking after you. If I couldn’t trust the man standing in the corner I couldn’t even get in the ring. You`d be on your own. When I get in the ring I don`t feel that I`m on my own. I have Mr Murray in the corner, and the ref in the ring. Make sure you go to a gym where you`re treated with respect. Make sure you`re training with the right people…just come down to ProKick. 

Do guys outside the club humour you until they actually see you in action?  

Yeah I think some might. Any guys that know me don`t, they know what I`m capable of as a person. Maybe people who don`t really know me do, but that`s fair enough. I think that’s just down to the sport for women in this country, whether it`s kickboxing, or boxing. It’s just not as big as it is over the rest of the world, and some of our attitudes are still lagging behind in a lot of ways. But that’s changing. 

Do you prefer to spar with guys in the club, or is it more realistic/ useful to stick with the girls?  

definitely like to mix it up. In the fighters class we have different fighters for different reasons. Look at Ursula, she`s a world champion and she`s not a world champion by accident. She`s really fast, has fantastic combinations and can really put me under pressure. And Cathy, she`s so explosive, like lightening and really strong. I love sparring with the guys too, technically they`re more experienced, they`re bigger and stronger. For me it’s just about being put under pressure by people who are better than you. We`re really fortunate in Prokick, having a great variety of fighters here. 

Describe your favourite aspect of training for a fight?  

I love it all; I love everything that we do. I love Boot camp and miss it when it’s not on. I love the discipline that’s required to keep coming back, to push yourself, train night after night; get up every morning to do your run, eating right, watching your weight coming down, and fighting against your lazy bones. When you work with all those components and they come together you feel fight-ready, it’s unbelievable. I love the whole process though it’s an emotional battle. The biggest battle takes place long before you step in the ring. You could have the best training weeks before a fight but if you don`t believe in yourself that affects your state of mind. You have to trust your coach, and I do. 100% Billy Murray trains champions and I feel incredible at the end of my training with him. 

What character trait of yours is most useful to you during a fight/ training?   

I think being so determined and having a lot of drive to push myself, and never give an inch. As well as loving what I do. 

How do you feel leading up to "the next event" 

As you go along your next fight is always your toughest fight, because you`re always moving up a level. 

As far as my preparation is concerned want know is her name, her fight record, and her stanceAnd that`s all I want to know. What works really well for me is not worrying about who my opponent is, and just concentrating on how hard I want it, how hard I work for it, and how hard I`m gonna fight for it. I`m excited about the challenge that my opponents set and I`m always ready for the next level. I`ve found something that works for me, I`ve got one shot at this and I want to see how far I can go. 

Does fighting in the Ulster Hall have extra significance for you because of Mr Murray’s victory there?  

I didn`t really know anything about Mr Murray, or kickboxing in Northern Ireland before I came to ProKick. The sad thing is the sport doesn’t get the representation that it deserves. What he was able to achieve, without much support over here is incredible. He travelled all over the world and basically did it himself, that’s an inspiration. He gives us so much time, boot camp then training every night. His passion for the sport is contagious; you just get caught up in it. He loves what he does and that emanates throughout ProKick, you can feel that passion coming from him. 

I don`t know if it has extra significance but it`s a fantastic opportunity to bring kickboxing into the light in this day and age. Maybe NI is ready for it now in a way that it wasn`t before. If you look at the fighters in this gym, they`ve fought all over the worldWorld title holders. There isn’t another gym, or another sport, in this country that can say that. Prokick is a tin hut and doesn`t have high- end equipment. But it has champions. Because it has passion. 

How hard does a punch from Mr Murray hurt? 

I`ll tell you this, one time we were training for my British title. Now, he didn`t hit me hard but he got me the cleanest money shot on the ribs and I`d never been hit like that before. That was the one punch that taught me the importance of the body shot. 

What is the atmosphere in the gym like in the run-up to an event 

It`s great, everyone`s excited for one another. The last one was a big event, the Ulster Hall is historic. If you`d told me on the 30th September 2012 after my first fight, if I`d be fighting in the Ulster Hall for a World title I wouldn`t have believed it, and thought it only in my wildest dreams.  

How much of your life is spent focusing on Prokick/ kickboxing?  

So much of it (laughs). Since I started my friends joke that I`m never about. Everything else revolves round it. I did a lot of partying in the past, socially this is the right time for me, I don`t feel like I`m sacrificing anything. My friends and family understand why I do it, and they love it too. They love how I’ve changed and get much more excited about things now. My achievements as well, the British title, the European title, and then the World title . You do sacrifice a lot, but when you love what you do it’s not really a sacrifice. 

Is there a side to you that Prokickers don`t get to see?  

Yes, writing, short stories, poetry. I`ve finished my first play and have sent if off to a theatre company. I had my first attempt at making short film last year (laughs, and mutters disastrous). I`ve done a bit of acting as well, I’m` pretty creative and I love a bit of drama. Outside of the gym I really want to write. After leaving university as an idealist I wanted to work for charities and the work that I`ve done with people has brought me back to my writing.  Other than that I love being outdoors, at the beach, up a mountain, under a tree, especially the water, I love the ocean. 

What do you do when you`re not in Prokick training?  

I`ve just started back at college doing a HND in Broadcast Journalism. I studied Politics and English Lit at uni but left as I really wanted to do charity work, Simon Community, Women’s Aid, different charities. I`ve worked in Mental Health for a few years but have handed in my notice because trying to study, to run, and to train for upcoming fights is becoming a little bit tight for me. I do a bit of writing as well and hearing different people`s stories has really inspired me. 

What are your plans for the future?  

I want to see how far I can go. Until Mr Murray tells me I`m done I`ll keep pushing myself. 

A few personal questions  

Does being a kickboxer give any skills you can use elsewhere?   

For me it’s just brilliant to get all that energy out and feel lighter within myself, it`s the best kind of therapy I could ask for. It gives you a sense of confidence that you can handle yourself, I think that’s very important. It also lets you flex some of those other muscles…determination, drive, hunger, focus, control, and respect as well. Training keeps you `in the moment` and, as a sometimes scatty person, it allows me to recreate focus in my own life. 

What part of your everyday life is the opposite of fighting in the ring?   

meditate. I go to see a Buddhist in Saintfield, but I wouldn’t see them as opposites, I see them as complimentary. They both allow you to take control of your mind. If you think of a tornado, your thoughts are like the wind racing round; when you meditate you can slip into the centre of your mind, where the stillness lies. Fighting’s like that, for me anyway. When we`re in here it’s all go, go, go, physically, but mentally you`re so still because you`re so focused, particularly when you get in the ring. When you`re coming though all that noise, music, and shouting, your head`s racing, your heart`pumping, and then you get into that ring. Your opponents there and you start to relax. You`re never more perfectly in the moment than when you`re fighting. Those are the two times when I feel totally grounded, and centred, at peace…even though it sounds crazy. You just have to breathe, and let it happen, it`s poetry in motion. 

What’s in your DVD collection/currently in your iPod?   

I love old school horror, old Hammer horror, real cheesy stuff. Thrillers. Crime. I love Tarantino, I love Scorsese. Django Unchanied was brilliant. And Korean and Japanese films, the Tartan Asian films. 

My IPod is totally mixed. I have Classical, Hip Hop, and Heavy Metal. A bit of everything 

What TV shows do you watch on catch-up?   

Law & Order SVU, Criminal Minds and Sons of Anarchy…hairy men on motorbikes, it’s good afternoon watching. 

Are you reading any books at the moment?   

I have started Carlos Castaneda’s Journey to Ixtlan but I’m also reading The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho. I’m terrible, sometimes I can focus and get through one book, other times I have three going. 

What could keep you awake at night?   

I tend to sleep well these days. In the past I tried to figure everything out and that keeps you awake, it`s exhausting. I think now with kickboxing, meditation, and writing, there aren`t many nights I`m kept awake with my `racing brain syndrome` anymore. Thank goodness I` ve grown up and have coping mechanismsI need the discipline and the structure. I need to be involved in something that is pretty much all-consuming. 

Describe your ultimate achievement in life?   

It`s really just to stick to the path that I`ve put myself on. I think if I can continue to do the things I love, and do them every day, that’s pretty much a recipe for happiness. It`s something that kinda dawned on me in the last few years. I think, growing-up you have so many expectations of how you have to behave and what you have to achieve. I`m ambitious, I like to push myself, I like belts, I like recognition, but ultimately it`s just to do what I want cause there`s such a reward from that. Whatever achievements I can rack up from doing the things I love, well, they`re a bonus. 

Will you share any greaadvice you`ve been given?   

When I was younger I just did what I wanted and it took me to some very dark places. ProKick has helped me establish and re-establish boundaries, and develop a very grounded assertiveness. This is who I am. This is what I love. I think we`re all built for a purpose and when you find it stick with it - but with discipline, and boundaries. 

What message would you like to give to kids today?   

Find out what you love doing and just do itall the time. It can be tough, it can be a challenge, but if you love it keep on doing it. 

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The Ice-Man Darren McMullan shoots from the lip with the Big ProKick Interview by Julie Pettigrew

The Darren McMullan Big Interview

Darren McMullan, undisputed Ice Man of ProKick, has taken some time off training for his upcoming fight in Paris to chill-out and answer a few burning questions. The Ice Man will be aiming to freeze his opponent out cold in France next weekend, but for the time-being he`s sitting under a hot tin roof in ProKick HQ and letting his mouth do the work for a change (and I don`t mean smiling).

The Ice-Man Darren McMullan shoots from the lip with the Big ProKick Interview by Julie Pettigrew

What got you into kickboxing?

It started from watching a fighting series called K1, it looked like a really good buzz and I wanted to take it up so I joined a gym and made weights to become bigger. Then I came to ProKick and quickly lost about 6 or 7 kilos, in this game you need to be more athletic.

Did you always have an interest in sports?

I wasn`t really into fitness, kickboxing was just something I decided to do on my own. I never had an interest in sports at school and any sports that I had done, running and stuff, I was always good at it because of my height, but I would rather write out lines than bring my PE stuff. That was the mentality I had when I was younger, I was silly.

Do you regret that?

Yes I do. I see Gary Hamilton and some other guys in here, they probably started at the age when I was too busy doing lines and wasting time. I just had no interest then.

Does it make you hungry for it because you`ve missed out for a time?

It does a bit. When I see the younger guys coming into the gym and they`re 15 and 16 I feel a bit of a burn seeing them fire-ahead, it makes you push on a wee bit further. If some of those young guys stick at it till they`re my age there`ll be something special coming outta this gym.

Would things have been different if you`d found sport sooner?

Yeah I think so. I kinda wasted my teenage years a bit, I flunked at school because I would rather bunk-off and just hang about. At that age I knew about sports but maybe it takes someone to explain it, or you need to experience the buzz of winning after training for weeks even months. I never had that when I was younger and maybe I would have enjoyed it. When I was 15 I was put into a juvenile detention centre and wasted my chance at G.C.S.E`s. I`d been at top levels in my classes and it really does annoy me, even to this day. I probably could have went back sooner but...

Would you say anything to kids in a similar situation?

Yes, if I ever have the chance to talk to anyone who`s having a hard time, or just wasting their life away, I explain my situation briefly and try to make them see that no matter how dark the night there`s always light the next day, so don’t give up hope. I never thought like that when I was younger but I never thought I would be doing this either.

I`d also advise kids to stay on at school and not to do what I`ve done, it’s easier than having to move away and start over. My dad still lives in the village where I grew up and now people say `that big guy`s had a wake-up call` and they treat me with respect. I can say I was way-down there and I turned it around, and so can you.

Was the juvenile detention centre a turning point?

Yeah. It wasn`t good and it did break me a bit, but in a good way. I regret what I`ve done to get here but I don’t ever regret the result and I think it`s made me a better person. Some of the people I used to hang about with then are still doing the same things. The guy I was with when it all went wrong has been in jail numerous times - that`s his life and this is mine. I`m proud of the way I`ve turned it around by going to tech and learning a trade. I have a good job with A Cairnduff & Sons Ltd in Newtownards, they`re a third generation family firm and only two or three of us are not related. There`s lots of construction firms that have shut-up shop with the collapse of the economy but my job feels secure and I love working there.

If you damaged your hands fighting would that impact your job?

It would to a certain degree but Cairnduff`s is another stroke of luck. They run to proper regulations, probably more so than bigger firms but they give more leeway to the likes of me if I injure myself. It`s a team and we carry each other when we need to but our boss will push us – get up early, work hard, get stuff done – that`s just his nature, and they`re like family to me.

How many families do you have?

Three, and they all play a big part in my life. I spend most time at work, then kickboxing, then home. I come home about 9pm and am only up for 2 hours before I`m off to sleep, then away in the morn before anyone else is up.

How does your family feel about you stepping into the ring?

My sister joined ProKick before me and gives me full support but at the start my Mum and Dad thought it was brutal. Around that time UFC was out and that’s what they were seeing in the paper. After my first couple of fights they saw how hungry I was for it and that I enjoyed the fitness side of it. Relating back to when I was younger, hanging about the streets drinking beer, it’s a much better way to live my life and makes me feel good about myself, they can see that.

Is your sister a fighter?

No but I`m trying to persuade her. Lyndsay and my brother would have the same need and hunger for adrenaline that I have. She`s running mad, she just went out one day not that long ago and ran 14 miles. She`d never done it before and now she`s signed up for Dublin. We`ll go out training and running together and she`ll push me to try new things, she`s a big support.

And your brother?

I started kickboxing about 6 years ago; at the same time my brother went out to Australia to work and was involved in an industrial accident, Gareth passed away and it was a pretty hard time for us all. I kinda expected that one day I would mentally snap and not be able to cope anymore but I think coming to ProKick helps. A lot of my friends ask how can I still laugh, joke and smile but when I walk through that door I feel better, I know as soon as I break a sweat, as soon as I hit those pads a couple of times nothing else matters except why I`m here, pushing myself, learning , increasing my skills.

You asked earlier what I`d advise other teenagers, I think at the point where young people are struggling in life, or need to find something to help them cope with stress, I would advise kickboxing, or any sports. I would advise that to anybody because training at the gym helped me come through the death of my brother. It was a very sad time.

My sister coped by doing a bit of travelling, she went out to Africa to do Christian Charity work, and although my brother was a traveller too I think maybe she was just running away for a while. I`ve always said I would like to travel more but I must be a home-man cause I still seem to be here.

Does fighting away from home fulfil your need to travel?

It does in a way. It’s really good to experience different cultures and meet different people. So far I`ve fought in Ireland, Scotland England, Wales, Switzerland (numerous times), Cyprus, Corsica, Germany…there`s probably more. I`m off to France in a few weeks.

Is that for a title?

No, it’s a friendly, two fighters who want to lead up to a title, you have to work your way up the ranks like in football. I`ve had my title shots and just have to keep fighting more people, new people and try to build a bigger name for myself, and get as many wins as I can.

What about your recent fight in Germany?

It was against a guy called David Wachs. I fought him about 20 months ago in Germany with a bit of a controversial loss. I felt I won that fight but the points said David had. I was very hurt by that, it gutted me as it was a first defence and I wasn’t able to defend it. We appealed the decision, me and Mr Murray, and did get a sanctioned re-match by the president of the WKN but it took 4 fight opportunities to compete against David again. He wouldn’t fight me, or pulled out, or was injured. There was always something wrong and I think he was avoiding the fight. Then over a year and a half later he finally agreed to a re-match in Germany, which I didn`t really want after the wrong decision being made there the last time. But I took it `cause I was looking forward to the fight – not in an aggressive way, I wanted to get my title back. Unfortunately things didn’t go my way.

Darren lost in German but close for a second time

Did you feel you deserved to win it this time round?

I did OK, but watching it back I lost on points and I`ll not take that away from David. It`s my fault and I should have done more. After any of my fights, if I lose or win, I`ll look back and Mr Murray always insists you do, to find your mistakes. If you win a fight you might not win it well, it could be a lucky punch, or maybe you were messy or unstylish. There`s always something to work on. One of the good things about the last match was that I wasn`t injured and I`m really looking forward to this fight next week in France, to having another good fight and hopefully walking away uninjured again.

Have you been injured before?

Over the years, fractures and things that have knocked me out of training but nothing major. I`ve lost my last three matches, which is not a good thing to have on your record, but I could say they`re the biggest three fights on my fighting career as an amateur. The first I lost was against Sean O`Neill in King of the Celtics, it was a middleweight fight which is a tough category. I had a perforated eardrum within the first 30 seconds even though I blocked the punch, I was instantly deaf and my balance was gone. I got knocked down a couple of times during that fight and Mr Murray was shouting instructions at me but I couldn`t hear a thing. I couldn`t even tell how loud I was talking while I was trying to say I can`t hear you! I was still fine, still fit and ready, and a natural instinct kicked in. Mr Murray makes us do a lot of self-defence and repetition so that all techniques are auto-pilot.

Are you planning to learn lip-reading for future fights?

No (almost smiles).

Have you had any change in strategy since your recent fight with David Wachs?

Mr Murray changed my game-plan for my last fight, there was something we both noticed and think that’s why I was getting caught. It was a good change and after my last match Mr Murray told me he thought it was my best fight to date. Even though I lost it was a smart fight, I was being tactical, calm, and keeping my distance instead of going like a bull, a wise old man once said; Don't be just a fighter be a thinking (smart) fighter they are harder to beat. Well, maybe he's not that old!

Has this change affected your training?

Yeah it has, now I always try to think ahead. I would advise anyone in kickboxing that no matter how long you`ve been here, no matter how many belts or titles you have, you`re always on that learning curve. You can never be too good because somewhere there`s always someone better, there`s always more to learn.

Do you ever feel you`ve had enough? Or are you in this for the long-haul?

I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

How do you find things are backstage pre-fight?

Our team have had a good lot of fights together and I think everyone`s well switched-on in how to react, train, eat, prepare, and how to get ready at the right time instead of getting ready too soon. When I first started I was really nervous and it’s only in the past year that I’ve lost those nerves. Every fight, at some point I think what am I doing? I`m not an evil person who enjoys going in to smash someone, it’s a sport and a skill and that’s why I enjoy going in, but you can have those wee doubts. As soon as the bell goes it`s onto auto pilot, you just do what you`re there to do. It’s a job says Mr Murray, so go to work and get the job done.

Does it differ much backstage when you`re not going in the ring?

The Easter show was the only show that I wasn`t actually fighting in. It was close after the fight in Germany, too close, but it made me available to help out. It was the biggest show since I`ve been here and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to help with pads and stuff. There was half a dozen people milling around me most of the night asking different questions and it felt good being able to tell new fighters something that was gonna benefit them, getting them in the right frame of mind. It was a different sort of buzz from being in the ring.

Would you consider coaching?

No not really, but I do feel good passing on help. Looking ahead it would have to be as a fighter, not a trainer.

How did you get the name Ice Man?

Mr Murray calls me that `cause he said I show no emotion in the ring, before and after the fight. Maybe some people look nervous before and happy after, but he said I just maintain the same expression, (almost smiles).

Can I call you Nice Man now that we`ve broken the ice?

No! (Back to Mr Frosty).

Have things changed much since you first started training in ProKick?

The training has stayed the same, there`s a format but different strategies for different fight cards, some being a bit more extreme than others . If there`s a beginner`s show the training`s long and drawn out. For a show with more experienced people on it, it`s pretty good. The preparation for our KICKmas show was the best, I enjoyed that training most in all the time I’ve been here - there were nine of us and everybody had a title fight. The training was specifically for the nine of us on that show, really intense. I think that everybody in the gym was in the best shape of their lives … although I say that before every fight.

What do you think of the latest New Breed?

I think they`re really good, I can see myself, and a lot of the other current fighters in them. It`s good to see their determination and I think they might be in this for the long-run though you can never really judge. Sometimes after the second or third fight some people have had enough because of work and training. I`m looking forward to watching them all at their next show.

What does Mr Murray think of the new breed?

I think he`s pleased with them `cause he trains them up from when they first come in the door and can`t throw a punch, to being ready for their first fight. I can`t imagine him being anything but happy about their progress. He`s changed some of their lives and he`s changed my life - how would it have been if I hadn’t come here? I`m almost certain that everyone who comes in here has their own different story and many wish they had come here when they were younger. ProKick Kickboxing, for the majority of people I talk to, seems to be a change in lifestyle, it’s a turnaround.

So you wouldn`t give Mr Murray sprints around the block then?

No. I still think he would beat me anyway. I don’t know how he can run that fast. He`s running 6 or 7 miles and doing 6.30 minute miles – my fastest was last week, 6.57 and that was only doing 1 mile. He`s doing 6 of them, and cross-country too.

Can he punch as well?

Yeah he can, but how many years has he been doing this…60?

How do you relax when/if you have time?

I usually take a week off training, maybe a couple of weeks of not being so intense and I just lie-in and let my body recover. I like to go away to music festivals and I`ve one booked for the summer, it`ll be two weeks after the fight. Maybe it’s not everyone`s idea of relaxing, going to hard-core music festivals, but it`s right up my street.

Is it hard to return to training after being off?

No, the only time it`s hard is after the new year, it`s tough after all the rich foods at Christmas. It was terrible coming back once after 3 full weeks of doing nothing, it took almost 2 months of training, and not enjoying it, just to get back to a fighting fit state. I won`t do that again.

Do you have to be fight-ready at all times?

Yes, you don`t know when it`s coming. You can go months without a suitable fight coming up so you always have to be ready.

What’s in your DVD collection/ currently in your iPod?

Nothing I don’t really watch TV `cause I don’t have time. I get home at 9, have a shower and eat which doesn’t leave much time so I’d rather go for a coffee with mates, talk on Facebook, or play a game of pool.

I have more of a music collection though and enjoy making people listen to my music before my fight, (cracks a smile, but it`s an evil one).

Are you reading any books at the moment?

No, no, no. It`s a bit ironic that when I was away in Germany I forgot my earphones and thought what am I gonna do for hours? So I went to the airport bookshop and bought Dambusters which is set in Germany during World War II. I never finished it.

What could keep you awake at night?

Apart from my music? The night before a fight, and nothing else. I generally sleep very well and I put that down to training and working so hard

Describe your ultimate achievement in life?

At the minute I would say having that world title shot in December. Afterwards, when I`ve mentioned that I didn’t win it, and people said that doesn’t matter you still fought for a world title, I`ve realised that I`d overlooked how lucky I was to have that shot `cause the majority of people don’t get those chances. I`m lucky to have the gym, and the trainer I have. It`ll happen again and I`ll hopefully win next time. Just swallow it and move on.

Will you share any great training advice you`ve been given?

When you`re in the ring and can`t do one more thing and Mr Murray looks you straight in the eye and tells you `it`ll be worth it when your hands in the air, keep the win in mind and never give up`. That can be enough sometimes. And Johnny Smith, he tells me to win it in my head first, I`d pass that on.

Anything else you`d like to share?

Just that I`m enjoying training for my next fight and can`t see myself stopping anytime soon…unless an injury stops me, and, I`m looking forward to the future.


For more on The Ice-Man by-way of photos and Video CLICK HERE FOR HIS PROFILE PAGE


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Karate and kickboxing star Cathy McAleer, took time from her hectic schedule ahead of her world kickboxing title challenge set for June 14th in Paris France to talk to

The Cathy McAleer Big Interview

Multiple world Martial art champion and former WKN Celtic, British kickboxing champion Cathy McAleer talks to Julie Pettigrew ahead of her world title challenge on June 14th in Paris France. The former champion McAleer, says she is “fully charged” and ready to reign again in the ring. The Belfast LadyKiller, will face Fadma Basrir in Paris on June 14th. Knowing, that victory over the world champion will re-launch her right to the top and ultimately, fulfilling her Destiny. >>>>>>>>Read on…........

Karate and kickboxing star Cathy McAleer - took time from her hectic schedule ahead of her world kickboxing title challenge set for June 14th in Paris France. The Karate Queen met up with ProKicker Julie Pettigrew who pulled no punches with her questions. Read on.........

Q: When did you realise you wanted to fight? Is it a moment you can pinpoint?    

A: No, I`ve never said to myself I want to fight, it just happened. I practised Karate, entered some competitions, won a few and it just snowballed from there.  

Q: How does your family feel about it?  

A: It’s a bit of a strange one. My dad got me into Karate cause I`d taken a bad, bad beating when I was seven but he`s never seen me fight in his whole life,. He doesn`t agree with it and doesn’t really feel I should fight. Then my older sister, Rose Marie, she`s non-stop, is constantly asking me when I`m gonna fight, she thinks it`s brilliant. The rest of my family show support but wouldn’t be as highly involved as my sister Rose Marie would be.

Q: What got you into Kickboxing all those years ago when you were on top at Karate? And why ProKick?  

A: I was training for the World and European titles in Karate and started doing heavy gloves and bags so that whenever I took the gloves off my hands were going faster. I won a number of titles in the European and World Championships and realised that I was strong. My coach at the time, Terry Boyle, said try some kickboxing so we picked ProKick…because it’s the best club in Northern Ireland.

Q: Can you tell us about your first fight for ProKick?  

A: Yeah, it was in the Holiday Inn, a show called The Ladykillers, Lydia Braniff was in that, me and Lydia used to train together all the time in here. That first fight was a tough one, I didn`t know what to expect, you`re coming out into a big crowd and there`s only 2 people in the ring. In Karate there`s about 5 or 6 mats going on at once and the focus isn’t solely on you, that`s a big thing to overcome. My opponent was a girl called Donna Larkin, I think she had 8 fights and 7 wins and I was coming in with nothing, thinking  what`s gonna happen to me? But I love the adrenaline and the feeling after, I think that`s what kept me going to do another, then another...

Q: Why did you stop when you were going well for nearly ten years?  

A: I had an opportunity to go for the British title after the Celtic. On the morning of the bout the fighter was changed to a girl I`d already fought 2 or 3 times, Adele Steinbeck. It was disappointing after being so psyched-up for it. At that time I got an offer to be a Karate Coach for NI and was promoted to General Manger of Virgin Sports. There was a bit of pressure to stay within Karate itself and pressure was being applied from work while I was trying to juggle two sports. I wanted to drive my career as well as being a coach for NI. Something had to give, and I wish I hadn’t, but it was kickboxing.

Q: What brought you back to kickboxing?  

A: Fran Spence had coffee with me one day and told me Ursula was getting ready for a world title, she asked would I come down and spar with Ursula. I hadn’t been in the ring for 6 years so thought no chance, I wouldn’t be fit. Then Mr Murray called me, and I said sure. So I came down and did a few rounds with Ursula and it motivated me. So I thought yeah, I`ll do something for myself.

Q: What do you think of the fighters in ProKick Gym since you first trained here?  

A: Absolutely brilliant, all the members are lovely. I`ve been welcomed in and it’s a brilliant atmosphere to be part of. I think that comes from Mr Murray himself, he`s so welcoming and pleasant with everybody. He always has a bit of a laugh too but we all know where the line is and we just don’t cross it. All the fighters are great in the club – Gary Hamilton, I trained with him years ago and he`s still here. Ursula and Samantha are both great too.

Q: Have you sparred with Ursula or Samantha?

A: I`ve sparred with everyone in the club. If it`s not on the floor then I get an opportunity in the ring. It really brings you on to spar with different people.
Q: Is it different sparing with the girls and the guys?  

A: Yeah it can be completely different. Ursula`s K1, she`s always looking for clean shots and Samantha, she`s a strong fighter, you`re not gonna go toe-to-toe with her. And the rest of the guys, they`re fast and sharp. Johnny`s done some training with me recently, the encouragement he gives you is unbelievable. The strength the other fighters give you, even when they can see you`re exhausted, is brilliant. Great team. Great club.

Q: Do you think women`s kickboxing gets less attention/ opportunities than men`s?  

A: Not in ProKick. I find Mr Murray goes out of his way to bring in the women - the events he`s held, like the Ladykillers, the PR he does with us, the advertisements in the media, what he`s achieved with Ursula. He`s done loads. Maybe outside ProKick it would be uneven. But then look at the boxing in the Olympics, it’s come in recently. You can see it`s starting to come through. I think compared to when I was here six years ago I see change, it was a lot quieter and now people are more accepting of females in this sport.

Q: How did you get the chance of such a big fight with the WKN and who approved it?  

A: Mr Murray. He said there was an opportunity coming up and would I be interested in a fight (55Kg) and I said Yes, Definitely, I want to do it. I didn’t know it was a title fight at that stage, I just knew I wanted to get back in. I`d left with a British title and hoped I`d get back in at that level, but to get an opportunity at a world title is amazing. I think it was Mr Murray and WKN that approved it.

Q: About your Paris fight against Fadma Basrir, what you thoughts on taking on the World Champion? Are you excited? Nervous? Do you know much about her?

A: I know she`s good! I feel a mixture, obviously there`s nerves with any competition and I`m a bit excited. I`m training as hard as I`ve ever trained and am eating the cleanest I`ve ever ate. I`m looking forward to it and am putting in 100%  

Q: Would you like to say anything to your opponent? En Français s`il vous plait!  

A: I wasn`t very good at French in school (laughs) so better not.  

Q: Have you a game-plan and a strategy for the fight?  

A: In previous fights I`ve had for Mr Murray I`ve always been an attacking fighter, going full speed and non-stop. The majority of fighters couldn’t stick the pace. With this one we`re thinking more about technical movement, taking less shots and don’t fight when I don’t have to. Get in, score, get out again.

Q: What about the different styles of fighting, do you think your opponent will see it as a problem, or an asset, that you haven’t concentrated solely on one style?  

A: Sometimes it can be to my benefit. In Karate you`re in to get a point then out again, that can help in kickboxing. It’s a benefit to me. K1 is new to me but I`m getting the combinations now, my hands and head kicks have great strength…yeah I`m coming along. Mr Murray seems happy so hopefully it`ll be OK.

Q: What will it mean to you to become WKN world kickboxing champion?  

A: It would mean everything. It would be absolutely unbelievable. I`d always said when I won the Worlds in the Karate, and when I`ve gone round schools giving presentations, that I want to be a World Champion in two sports. It would be a dream come true.

Q: What about travelling away from home, how does that impact things?  

A: I`ve competed all round the world with Martial Arts, but in kickboxing I haven’t. So going into Fadma`s hometown, with her crowd cheering...ahh I`ll just have to go in there and do what I`ve gotta do.

Q: Will there be any team-mates with you?  

A: Maybe, Darren might have a fight. Hopefully there will be one or two.  

Q:Any friends flying out to watch?  

A: Yes a few, I think. Maybe an auntie or two but I don’t know if that’s a good thing. When I`ve travelled round the world before no-one I know had watched me compete. It`s so different when you come into the Ulster Hall, or the Holiday Inn, and its full of people you know, it makes you perform better but it’s an extra pressure.  

Q: How`s your training going? What`s a typical day like at the moment?  

A: Training`s going OK, Mr Murray is putting in loads of time. I wake up at 4.30 and take my lovely Samoyed called Ace for walk, that helps stretch tight legs out from training of the day before. Get breakfast then straight into work for 5.30am, making sure I`m getting breaks, eating healthy etc. Then to ProKick for a run - more like I chase Mr M, he`s so fit, I thought I could run till I started running with him! That’s usually 7 or 8 miles. Come back. Head home for a shower, food and then I`m driving back to ProKick again for a couple of classes. Home for a shower and a little bit of food (I have no appetite after all the training) then I climb into bed and start all over again the next morning.

Q: How's the balance going between your job and your training for this big fight?  

A: It`s OK, I suppose the more you train the more energy you have. I train two and most times three times a day when I can, early morning, over lunch and late in the evenings at ProKick. Everything runs quickly and to schedule. I have my lists so know what I need to tick off each day, if I wasn’t organised I couldn’t do it. It can be difficult to get the balance right and sometimes I find myself going back into work after ProKick if there`s things I`ve missed out to prepare for the next working day. The job doesn`t let you not do it, I`ve 63 staff, there`s sales targets to be hit, Health & Safety etc. – you`re constantly thinking, and not only about the fight.  

Q: You`re a coach as well, how do this compare to training? Do you have a preference?

A: I love travelling the world and giving back what I`ve learnt, and when you do it yourself you understand the emotional and mental side of it so you`re able to relate to the student. You can be a good fighter and fit and strong but if you haven’t got the mental preparation for it, it can blow you right off course and  you`ll not achieve anything. I think cause I`ve experienced it I can help them more and a couple of the guys I`ve been training have come up to the level of World Champion. The students look up to you if you do the fitness and training. There are coaches out there who just stand by the side-lines and shout orders. A lot of my students don’t know I`m doing this so they`ll get a shock when they read about it. I just went off to the side-lines and done it, this is something I need to do on my own.

Q: You won quite a few Coach of the Year awards, are you competitive in every aspect of your life or did these come to you naturally?  

A: I`m competitive, I work for everything and anything I do. I always have been. They were a goal when I started coaching,  

Q: You work as the General Manager for Virgin Active, is it difficult not to jump in and get involved at a coaching level when you see customers who need encouragement?  

A: Yeah it is. I started off as a receptionist and worked my way up, I did coaching and have all my qualifications so can teach all the classes. If an instructor is off sick or has an injury I`d probably be one of the first to say I`ll cover that. It’s hard not to get hooked into doing too much but, over the last few years, I`ve taken a massive step back and am solely focusing on business development and growth of the club. I have great staff and they all do a brilliant job, I like getting involved with the customers, they know I`m not just a GM who sits behind a desk all day. Some of the members will text me and ask if I`m doing a class and will join me. I`m highly involved in it from the fitness end of too.

Q: Do guys outside the club humour you until they actually see you in action?  

A: Not really. Because I`ve done Martial Arts since I was about 9 I think they all know this is what I do. I`m quite quiet and sometimes not a big chatter but I think they`ve got an idea – I`ve always been called Karate Kid. They`ve seen me coach the kids and train and fight so they know it’s pretty much my life. That’s all I do – sports and martial arts.

Q: Have you learnt anything new about yourself during this latest training program?  

A: Just that I want to do something for myself again and take up this opportunity to get a world title in kickboxing. Hopefully I`ll get a chance at full contact or Muay Thai, or whatever other styles there is. I wouldn’t stop, I`m really enjoying it.

Q: So you`re really back, it’s not just for this one?  

A: No, no definitely not. For the past year I`ve come 5 or 6 times a week and I wouldn`t put that commitment, time and training in. When this fight came up I didn’t even know it was a title fight. Mr Murray offered it to me and I just said yes straight away. When I heard it was K1 I did kinda go `ooohh` cause I`m more a full-contact fighter, but inside I knew I should take this. I had a bit of weight to drop but I knew if Mr Murray believed in me I could do it.

Q: What is your diet like? Are you strict about it?

A: Yes really strict, cause I had to come down that bit. Everything is so clean and so healthy, I haven’t touched anything bad in two and half weeks, it`s all good - chicken, steak, couscous, asparagus, green beans, white fish, it’s all good. No crisps. No chocolate. No fizzy drinks. The worst thing I`ve had was some peanut butter on a rice cake after training one day.

Q: Best post-fight meal/treat?

A: I`ve had a real craving for a sausage soda but probably a Chinese after the match, or a pizza.  
Q: What character trait is most useful to you in the ring?  

A: My determination. If you`re in the ring and you have a lot of heart it can shine through. Once I`ve said I`m doing something I stick to it – I never break it.

Q: What are your plans for the day after?

A: Fly home, hopefully with some good news.  
Q: What are your plans for the future?  

A: Take up this challenge, see how it goes, and see what else Mr Murray has planned for me. When I`m committed I give it 100% so hopefully I`ll keep up the fitness and stay injury-free.


Q: Does being a MA kickboxer give any skills you can use in daily life?  

A: Self-defence and basic confidence in everyday life. It gives you confidence in work, to deal with staff, to help others when they need it. I can remember my own confidence building through MA, I was very quiet and shy in school and then I got beat up in the park for wearing the wrong uniform in the wrong area so I remember having no confidence, then suddenly getting some through sport.  

Q: What part of your everyday life is the opposite of fighting in the ring?  

A: Most people who meet me for the first time wouldn’t believe that I do any fighting because I`m quiet and peaceful. I like to spend time with my nieces, enjoy taking them out and I always like something to work towards. I took up a qualification in Sports Massage and ended up doing three courses Sports, Swedish and Hot Stones just to do something more. It`s not all about the fight.

 I`m quite driven and I think I`ve watched so many people coming in through the door that can’t train or have illnesses. There`s one gentleman in particular, a member of Virgin for years and he was a big cyclist. He got knocked off his bike by a coal lorry and was in Intensive Care. I was visiting him every other day and they told him he`d never walk again - he`s back in the gym doing pull-ups, lifting weights, cycling and it’s that determination. There`s a lot of people who are physically ok but just sit on the sofa doing nothing, so when you see those motivated people coming through the door in your daily life it drives you on while you still can.

Q: Do you help the cyclist to recover?

A: The club helped, there’s one guy called Christian who was the personal trainer for his cycling races. When he had the accident me and Christian went to visit him and thought this guy’s not gonna survive this. The doctors didn’t believe he was gonna survive it. The minute he got out of that bed, and he shouldn`t have been out, he looked me in the eye and said I`ll be in the club in 3 weeks and I thought no chance but I could see his determination. Then one Sunday when I was in the club I got a phone call saying where are you? I said I`m in the club and he said I`m at the bottom of the steps, and there he was with a couple of plaster paris on, a cage around this neck and he was walking up the steps to have a coffee with me. Watching things like that happen has taught me that if you have the determination then no matter what, you can make it happen. When you`re told by doctors you should give up your sport you can do that but I think there’s a bit of mind over matter, along with strength and training in the right way.

Q: What’s in your DVD collection/currently in your iPod?

A: That’s funny! I`m not someone who comes in and puts the TV on. I`m never in the house actually. And music…I `m the only one in my family who can`t play piano or something, I`m not musical at all. I couldn`t even tell you what music is playing when it is on. I just make up my own lyrics when I try to sing along (it gives the team at work a laugh)

Q: Are you reading any books at the moment?

A: Funny you should ask that too. My Uncle Des is an actor and is in a play at The Lyric. When I went to see him he asked me the same question and was giving off when I answered none. Any books I read are sports specific - nutrition, anatomy, physiology, massage, injuries. I only read what I`m interested in and hate the thought of reading fiction. It has to be history, something that’s happened or has a benefit to me.

Q: What could keep you awake at night?

A: Just my own head ticking away because I`ve got so much to organise in my own job. And with the fight coming up you`re always thinking ahead. A walk with Ace helps me to switch off, then I can just relax.

Q: Describe your ultimate achievement in life?

(This is where Mr M walks back in gym, Cathy goes Quiet, to a mumbled answer and I sense Cathy doesn`t want me to ask any more, lucky I had the rest done, I'll get her again on this one).

Q: Will you share any great advice you`ve been given?

A: Train hard, eat correctly and put 100% into everything you do  

Q: What message would you like to give to kids today?

A: Take every opportunity that’s given to you and don`t sit around drinking at the weekend. Just go and do it.  
Final question for now: Anything else you`d like to share/haven’t been asked?  

Cathy's answer: Just to add that I feel I`m privileged to be welcomed back into ProKick and been given an opportunity so big - I`m really enjoying it.

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Mr & Mrs Ross pictured at Scotland's biggest multi-purpose fitness and martial arts centre.

Humble Beginnings to State of the Art Centre

Mr Albert Ross, a Karate and Kickboxing Black Belter, is from humble beginnings and now he is the founder and CEO of a state-of-the-art Fitness Centre, in Fraserburgh. Scotland. Mr Ross now heads one of Scotland’s biggest multi-purpose fitness complex and martial arts centre.  His mission was to provide a facility and service to the community, and that’s exactly what he’s done.

Fraserburgh Fitness Centre incorporates Satorishido Martial Arts Centre and it teaches karate, WKN kickboxing, K-1 and MMA classes.  The centre also boasts a Body Tec Gym, where you can find a large amount of high level equipment and a wide range of free-weights.  The gym also includes a big cardio area with on-site personal trainers.

In addition, you can also find Masami Pamper Treatment rooms, a sauna area or you could get a nice tan in one of their three sun-beds.

Sensei Ross, as he is known, is the founder and Chairman of the Satorishido Martial Arts Association which he started in 1998.  And with over 30 years experience in Martial Arts he has devised his own style of freestyle Karate, with emphasis on self defence.

In the year 2000 Mr Ross had the vision to create a purpose built Martial Arts Centre, a first in the North-east of Scotland, and with hard work and personal sacrifice he saw his vision come true when the clubs headquarters opened at James Ramsay Park Fraserburgh in 2003.

It has been a labour of Love and it's not over yet, there is more plans for further re-developments.

Billy Murray visited Mr Ross to learn about some of the pit-falls regarding re-building and had this to say: “This has been a really informative trip coming ahead of my guy’s match’s tomorrow night.  Albert has done an amazing job here.  He started in a worst place than ours, at ProKick, and now through hard work and sacrifice he and his team have a truly state-of-the-art fitness centre, which is now part of the Fraserburgh community. I've learned so much today just by spending a few hours with Mr Ross and I can't wait to get back home to start working on Prokick's developments.”

Thanks Albert, and to all your team for making me feel so welcome and for being an inspiration for us all to follow.

A walk through video will be up-loaded soon featuring Mr Ross on a walk and talk through the Fraserburgh centre.


Check Out some Photos from Fraserburgh fitness centre

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Some of ProKick's Team at Belfast's new visitor attraction, Titanic Belfast in the Harland and Wolff docklands

Thai-tanic Event Belfast

As Belfast relives the wonderful 100 year-old story of Titanic, the greatest ship of them all, top Irish kickboxing stars will be adding to the occasion with a spectacular Thai-tanic event of their own. The city will host Thai-tanic Titles at the Holiday Inn on June 10, and it promises to be a riveting showcase, according to promoter and one of Ireland’s kickboxing king-pins Billy Murray. >>>>>

Murray, a proud east Belfast man who grew up in the shadow of the Harland and Wolff docklands where Titanic first set sail from in 1912, Murray was keen to see his Prokick Gym play a part in the ship's fascinating tale.
He said: "We always have a theme for our shows that have been running for more than 25 years - and there's no ignoring the theme for our wonderful city of Belfast in 2012, the Titanic.
"I grew up on stories on the great ship and now I am proud to associate our historic sport with one of the most gripping and enduring events in world history.

"We will have a special Titanic themed event in which the top Irish kickboxers will showdown with international class - and every fight will have a title on the line."
Murray kicked off promotions for the June 10 Thai-tanic event at the famous Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices, where Titanic was first drawn and planned, and on the doorstep of Belfast's new visitor attraction, Titanic Belfast.

Check out the event by Clicking Here

ProKick team pose for the release of the Thai-tanic event

He added: "There's a real sense of pride in Belfast now about Titanic and being in those Drawing Offices leaves hair standing on the back of the your neck. It's a proud occasion and Prokick fighters will make the city proud when they represent it in June."

For more details about our Thai-tanic event go full steam ahead for more right here on or call the ProKick hot-line on 028 9065 1074

Image Gallery
All friends after the battle, what a great sport Kickboxing.
Belter Darren McMullan (ProKick NI) Vs lifted a WKN European Amateur Middleweight belt. It was presented by Mr Ernesto Hoost
Crowned King of Europe by the WKN top Man Mr Cabrera at the Thai-Tanic event Belfast June 10th 2012
WKN top man Mr Cabrera presents the belt at the Thai-Tanic event Belfast 10th June 2012, to winner Gary Fullerton
Picture from the Last Hoorah Saturday 2nd June. It was the last one of the present serries of 'New Breed' Boot Camps - with just 4 survivors, That's News for another day!
Mr T was out in front then his leg popped but he still finished the Camp...true Grit
Darren McMullan Vs Demetris Sarantopolous - VIDEO
Gary Fullerton Vs Bo Desselbrine - Thai-Tanic VIDEO
Mickey Shields Vs Jamie Bays - Thai-Tanic VIDEO
Ursula Agnew Vs Soundes Arif - VIDEO
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Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson, marked a special visit to a famous sports gym in his native east Belfast on Tuesday, February 21

First Minister Belt’s Up Kickboxing Kids

Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson, marked a special visit to a famous sports gym in his native east Belfast, Tuesday, February 21st, to honour the achievements of four young kickboxing students. Mr Robinson, is used to the polished surrounds of his Stormont office. The First Minister walked through the proverbial sawdust at a famous old kickboxing gym in his east Belfast constituency, ProKick. The entire event was streamed LIVE on the internet via the link on the Gym’s home page -

Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson, marked a special visit to a famous sports gym in his native east Belfast on Tuesday, February 21, to honour the achievements of four young kickboxing students.

Mr Robinson was guest of honour at the Prokick Gym on Wilgar Street, where he present Saskia Connolly (Carrickfergus), Leith Braiden (South Belfast), Kyle Morrison (East Belfast) and Jamie Phillips (Bangor) with the highest accolade after several years of dedication to their sport, their Black Belts.

The First Minister said: “The Prokick Gym is well-known throughout Northern Ireland and the rest of the world for its achievements in kickboxing, and none more so than Billy Murray, its founder and four-time world champion.

“I recall Billy Murray at his sporting prime and how he brought many entertaining occasions and visitors to Northern Ireland during difficult times. He is a fine example of the many inspiring sports people in our country.

“Prokick Gym is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and it is testament to Billy Murray’s dedication, coaching and love for his sport that, after opening the doors two decades ago, the club is producing new talent to this day.” He added: “Saskia, Leith, Kyle and Jamie have achieved a great honour – we all know that the Black Belt in martial arts is special. They should be proud, as I’m sure their parents, family and their coach is proud of them.”

Ex-world champion, Billy Murray, said: “To have our First Minister, Peter Robinson, visit us for this presentation to our fabulous four young Black Belt students, was a proud moment in the history of Prokick Gym and the sport of kickboxing in Northern Ireland. It is a tremendous boost for us all and one the children will never forget.”

To see the presentation
The First Minister for Northern Ireland hits proKick CLICK HERE

Billy Murray 028 9065 1074 or 07885 284409

Image Gallery
Some of the ProKick team enjoying what was left of the refreshments after First Minister Peter Robinson's visit.
ProKick founder Billy Murray meets the Office of First Minister Peter Robinson during his visit.
ProKick founder Billy Murray discusses the future of the sport with First Minister Peter Robinson during his visit.
Adele Robinson meets Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson's Office.
ProKick founder Billy Murray and former Olympian boxer Paul Douglas meet Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson.
ProKick founder Billy Murray jokes around with new junior Black Belt Saskia Connolly during Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson's visit to ProKick HQ.
ProKick founder Billy Murray meets Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson meets ProKick fighter and Kid's instructor Gary Fullerton.
ProKick founder Billy Murray jokes around with new junior Black Belt Jamie Phillips during Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson's visit to ProKick HQ.
Billy Murray along with his ProKick team meet Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson meets ProKick's Fab Four in the ring - without the blows!
ProKick's 'Fab 3' meet Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson.
Billy Murray along with grandson and ProKick student Riley meet Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson.
Proud ProKick parents watch on as Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson presents 4 ProKick Kids their Black Belts at ProKick HQ.
ProKick junior members watch on as Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson presents 4 team mates their Black Belts
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson presenting 4 ProKick Kids their Black Belts at ProKick HQ.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson presents ProKick's 'Fab Four' with their Black Belts.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson presenting 4 ProKick Kids their Black Belts at ProKick HQ.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson preparing to hand out the black belts to the four recipients.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson congratulating billy Murray and the ProKick team.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson is asked to present ProKick's 'Fab Four' with their Black Belts.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson delivers a speech at ProKick HQ.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson invites his daughter, Rebecca to join one of the ProKick six week beginner courses.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson delivering his speech at ProKick HQ.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson speaking to the media and the ProKick team.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson observing some of ProKick's junior members during their class warm up.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson observing some ProKick Kids training hard.
ProKick kids watching the video presentation for the First Minister's visit to ProKick HQ.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson congratulates ProKick on its success over the past 20 years.
The ProKick team enjoy the First Minister's visit to ProKick HQ.
Northern Ireland press members covering the First Minister's speech at ProKick HQ.
ProKick founder and head coach Billy Murray speaking about the kids in front of the First Minister at ProKick HQ.
ProKick junior member Braiden McGill smiling for the camera at the First Minister's visit to ProKick HQ.
Some of the ProKick kids demonstrating their class discipline and etiquette in front of the First Minister at ProKick HQ.
Joseph Millar, son of Black Belt Karen smiling for the camera as he listens in to the First Minister's speech at ProKick HQ.
Some of the ProKick kids listening in to the First Minister's speech at ProKick HQ.
ProKick founder and head coach Billy Murray introduces the Northern Ireland First Minister.
ProKick Kids await the arrival of Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson.
ProKick fighters Johnny Smith and Davy Foster wait to greet First Minister Peter Robinson during his visit.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson arrives at ProKick HQ with daughter, Rebecca.
Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson is welcomed into the gym by press members and the ProKick team.
The new ProKick junior Black Belts greeting the First Minister on his visit to ProKick HQ.
ProKick founder and head coach Billy Murray introduces the Northern Ireland First Minister to the four Junior Black Belt recipients.
ProKick founder and head coach Billy Murray introduces the Northern Ireland First Minister to the four Junior Black Belt recipients.
The new ProKick junior Black Belts and their parents greeting the First Minister on his visit to ProKick HQ
The new ProKick junior Black Belts and their proud parents ready themselves to greet the First Minister on his visit to ProKick HQ.
ProKick junior members await the arrival of the Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson.
ProKick parents await the arrival of the Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson.
ProKick parents await the arrival of the Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson.
ProKick junior members await the arrival of the Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson.
The ProKick parents enjoy the First Minister's visit to ProKick HQ and especially listening to his kind words about their great achievements.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson Visits ProKick HQ - VIDEO
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Billy Murray with Darryl Campbell, designer of all the ProKick artwork

ProKick Gym 20 Years On

WHAT do you do with your abode when there are holes in the ceiling, holes in the roof, holes in the floor, no heating, a bird’s nests above the loo, and paint falling off the walls? You celebrate, that’s what you do. It’s 20 years since former world champion Billy Murray took over the deeds of an old east Belfast snooker hall and turned into the ProKick kickboxing gym.

Two decades on, the now world famous gym has produced a catalogue of domestic, European and world champions, bringing some of the finest kickboxing and Muay Thai titles to tin-hut dewelling that resides next to the historic home of Dundela Football Club.
Belfast native Murray, who continues to knock 20 years off his 50-something with grinding daily training routines that begin at six in the morning, will celebrate the birth and growth of his Prokick brand with a special Awards and fight show at the Hilton Hotel on January 28 – bring a host of new local fighters to the canvas.

Muarry, a four-time world champ who lifted his first Ulster title 30 years ago, said: “It’s amazing that we have been in a tin-hut gym for 20 years. It was a snooker hall and before that I believe it housed the Army in another location outside Belfast.

“We have been here throughout the Troubles and I fought through some of the darkest days in our history; but we got through it and all that endeavour has been worth it.ProKick Gym in 2012

“The gym is, however, quite literally falling down around us but more and more new faces are coming to the gym every week. We have been consistently starting new beginner classes for many years – there is a big interest in the sport for those wanting to get fit or for those wanting to be competitive at a top level.”

Some of Murray's former beginners will be among those taking to the ring at the end of the month for The Graduates – Next Generation show, David Foster, Gary Fullerton, Darren McMullan, Paul Best, Karl McBlain and Johnny Smith.

The event will also celebrate Prokick Gym’s 20th anniversary and those who helped make the club what it is today – one of the foremost kickboxing clubs in the World Kickboxing Network’s family. Tickets for The Graduates – Next Generation fights and Prokick Awards night are available at Prokick Gym on Wilgar Street. Tickets are priced at £20 or £40, the latter including a pre-event buffet and early entrance. Show starts at 7:30pm. For more information log on to or call 028 90 451074.

Black Belt Test - Four ProKick Kids - VIDEO
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Gary with his WKN Featherweight World Title Belt which he held from 2002-2008

Gary Hamilton Talks About Return To The Ring

Former world kickboxing champion Gary Hamilton says he is “fully charged” and ready to reign again in the ring. The Belfast man will face Michael Johnston in Lincoln on November 26, knowing that victory over the veteran will re-launch his credentials as a serious title challenger in 2012.

Gary sweeps French World Champion Mohammed SamirHamilton, 31, held the WKN featherweight title for six years – he is now setting his sights on light-welterweight honours. Having fought just once this year – a stunning demolition of old foe Aubrey Tarr in March – chef Hamilton was forced into a spell of inactivity due to work commitments. But he now promises to cook up a storm in Lincoln. He said: “It’s a perfect fight for me to make a comeback because Michael Johnston and I have been around for a long time – if anything; Michael is more experienced than me. Since the Aubrey Tarr fight in March I have found it difficult to put in the effort and commitment required to be at the top of my game.

“That has been down to work commitments mainly, making it hard for me to get to the gym and get a real focus on training. But, now, I am back. I may have said that before, but this time I mean it.

“My plan for next year is to capture another world title and this time at a heavier weight division. I believe I can achieve that; I wouldn’t be putting in the work if I didn’t believe it. I never fell out of love for kickboxing – it was simply due to work commitments. “It’s not as if I simply stopped training. While I was unable to get to the gym, I stepped up my road running and kept in shape.”

Hamilton isn’t concerned about his level of inactivity ahead of such an important contest against Johnston. Indeed, he believes his prolonged spell outside the ropes has provided him with mental and physical benefits.

He added: “When I started off my career I was consistently fighting. I fought 12 times in my first year as a professional and at the same time was training for professional boxing contests. So, this is the first real break I have had for many years.

“I feel well rested and my body is peaking – I feel stronger now than I have ever felt. I may be 31 years of age but to me that is just a number – I am charged and ready to go again. “This fight with Johnston may be low-key in comparison to what I have been used to in recent times but it is a massive one for me.

It is the beginning of a new stage in my career and I cannot afford to lose. I know there are champions out there waiting to see how I perform against Johnston and it is important that I do perform and win.

“Give me a world title fight next month and I will be ready for it. I know that’s not going to happen but I am determined that I will be challenging for a title at light-welterweight.”Gary Hamilton Kicks High in front of Goliath

Meanwhile, Johnny Smith will bounce back into the kickboxing ring on November 26 for his 10th fight of the year. Fresh from his first round Hallowe'en victory over Aberzak Hasan, welterweight Smith has been the busiest Prokick fighter this year.

He said: "It was great to get an early victory on Hallowe'en and that has been beneficial to me because I have now another fight to look forward to before the end of the year. "It's been a pretty good year for me and it will be a superb way to end it if I can secure another win."

Smith will be joined on the fight card in Lincoln by his pal and house-mate Karl McBlain, who will also compete in the welterweight division.

McBlain defeated Holland's Robin Venken on October 30 in Belfast.

For more information on Kickboxing over Northern Ireland click onto

Alex McGreevy Interviews Gary Hamilton - VIDEO
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Heavyweight McBride has called out Fury, Rogan and Barrett for a 4 man Irish Title eliminator

Heavyweight Boxer Kevin McBride

HEAVYWEIGHT boxer Kevin McBride says he will not walk away from boxing after his recent knock-out defeat and has called on fellow heavyweights Martin Rogan, Tyson Fury and Coleman Barrett to “step up to the plate” for a four-man Irish title showdown. McBride must face medical examinations before he fights again - following the stunning knock-out he suffered at the hands of Poland’s Mariusz Wach in July in a challenge for the WBC International belt.

HEAVYWEIGHT Kevin McBride says he will not walk away from boxing after his recent knock-out defeat and has called on fellow heavyweights Martin Rogan, Tyson Fury and Coleman Barrett to “step up to the plate” for a four-man Irish title showdown.

Kevin McBride Vs Mariusz WachMcBride must face medical examinations before he fights again - following the stunning knock-out he suffered at the hands of Poland’s Mariusz Wach in July in a challenge for the WBC International belt.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday World, the Boston-based fighter who was in the other corner when Mike Tyson retired on his stool and from boxing in 2005, said he had turned down an opportunity to fight Tyson Fury - who fought at the King’s Hall in Belfast last night - but would welcome a shot at him, Rogan or Barrett.

McBride admits he is “baffled” that the Boxing Union of Ireland took away his status as Irish heavyweight champion and wants an opportunity to fight for it once again.

He added: “As far as I am concerned, I am the heavyweight champion of Ireland and no-one has told me otherwise. I was the champ and the next thing I hear is that Coleman Barrett has a belt also. That can’t be true because I didn’t defend it against him and the real belt hasn’t left my home.

“The Boxing Union of Ireland has not been in contact with me and I am disappointed about that. I am the Irish heavyweight champ and no matter who wants the belt, they will have to fight me for it.”

Beaten by Matt Skelton in the heavyweight version of Prizefighter, McBride (35-10-1, 29KOs) played down speculation that he was about to retire.

The 38-year-old added: “My critics have been saying I was retiring since 2006 and every year since beating Mike Tyson. They said recently that I was going to quit but that could not be further from the truth. I am not allowed to fight right now but only because of the knock-out against Wach.

“Mentally and physically I feel great but the medical people still want to see me before I fight again and I expect to go through more medical tests. That’s the nature of the sport but I do expect to be fighting again sooner rather than later.”Kevin McBride Vs Mike Tyson

The 6ft 6” Monaghan-born McBride added: “I was all set for the fight with Wach when I got a call about fighting Tyson Fury at some stage this year. But I had to take the fight; it’s my job and it was for a WBC International belt, which could have launched my career again. I hope another opportunity with Fury comes up this year.

“I have already beaten one Tyson and I know I can beat the other. I have never heard of the guy (Nicolai Firtha) that Fury was fighting in Belfast and I doubt that’s the fight people wanted to see. The Irish heavyweight scene is big right now and there’s a good chance one of us could get a big title shot.

“It would be great to see Martin Rogan, Coleman Barrett, Tyson Fury and myself in a box off to see which one of us is the best Irish heavyweight fighter. I would have no fear of that challenge.”

Reflecting on his victory over Mike Tyson six years ago, McBride, now a father of two; said it was the best night of his career but one that has made the remainder of it difficult too.
“I was a fan of Mike Tyson; he was my hero. To share the ring with him was something special. The same night of our fight I also got to meet Mohammad Ali, my all-time hero. I told him and Tyson that it was the greatest night of my life. On reflection, it was also a night that has made the rest of my career very tough. I was given a lot of promises after beating Tyson and none of them ever developed. I have seen too many doors and windows closed in my face and right now all I can do is peek through the keyhole.

“But I am not the griping sort; that’s boxing. The sport knocks you down inside and outside the ring. I am happy now and I know I can get fit and fight again. I do feel I have something more to give and hopefully another title shot will come my way.”

McBride has had just eight contests since defeating Iron Mike Tyson, and was inactive throughout 2008 and 2009.
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K1 Legend Andreas 'Andy' Hug tragically passed away at just 35 years of age

Andy Hug - Gone But Not Forgotten

K1 legend Andy Hug was known in Japan as the ‘Blue-Eyed Samurai’, a nickname given by by K-1 founder Kazuyoshi Ishii. The popular and influential martial artist who defeated many of the sport’s most famous names died ten years ago in Japan. Here is some information to honour his memory.

K1 legend Andy Hug was known in Japan as the 'Blue-Eyed Samurai', a nickname given by by K-1 founder Kazuyoshi Ishii. The popular and influential martial artist who defeated many of the sport’s most famous names died ten years ago
in Japan. Here is some information to honour his memory.Andy Hug Child Pic

Andreas ‘Andy’ Hug was born on September 7, 1964 in Zurich, Switzerland. His father, Arthur was a foreign legionnaire, who lost his life in Thailand without ever seeing his son. He rarely saw his mother Madelaine and together with his brother Charly and sister Fabienne, grew up with his grandparents in Wohlen.

At the age of six, he started his sporting career by playing soccer and was even selected to play on the Swiss National Under-16 team. The start of his martial arts career which would see him rise to World fame started at eleven when he began practicing Karate at Wholen Karate school under Werner Schenker.

Two years later, he won first place at the European Cup in Hungary, the first of many titles. In 1983, he took part in the Karate World Championships, the tournament that was to be the foundation of his later found World Championship standard. Around eighty fighters from all over the globe gathered to compete in the open weight class. Andy battled his way through and reached the final sixteen.

Andy with a host of trophies he won before hitting the big timeHe attended his second World Championships Tournament in 1987. In the semi-finals, he defeated opponent Akira Masuda and for the first time in the history of Kyokushinkai, a non-Japanese fighter was competing in the finals.

Andy lost the fight by a controversial points decision to Shokei Matsui. As early as 1988, Andy had become a trainer for the Swiss national team, passing on his knowledge and experience to other competitors from his home country.

The fifth open weight division Karate World Championships took place in 1991 at The Budokan in Tokyo. In his third fight, Andy faced Francisco Filho. In the closing seconds of round three, just as the bell rang, Filho landed a high kick on the side of Hug's head and knocked Andy to the floor. Karate Master and founder of the Kyokushinkai, Mas Oyama concluded that the strike was legal.

It was later confirmed that although Filho's kick had indeed struck after the bell rang, he had thrown the strike before the time was up and Filho was still declared the winner.

Andy continued to fight in Japan with success and began to grow extremely popular. His technical diversity, spectacular aesthetics, tactics and strength impressed the fans. On August 28, 1993 Andy married Ilona in Inwil. Around the same time he changed styles from Kyokushinkai to Seidokai Karate and making the jump from being an amateur to a professional fighter. Later that year Hug competed in his first WGP tournament. A few months prior to the tournament, Hug defeated Branco Cikatic making him the favourite to win by Japanese fans but Andy was upset by American kickboxer Patrick Smith in a first round stoppage.
Andy Hug Axe Kick

In the autumn of 1996, Andy was struggling within himself that he wasn't able to win the K-1 World Grand Prix. In his second fight at the 96 WGP Finals he met Ernesto Hoost and won by decision. In the final, Andy was matched up against Mike Bernardo.

After his two defeats to Bernardo in 1995 Andy was determined to beat him and was ultimately successful, winning via spinning low kick, securing his first and only WGP title.
Andy Hug reached the K-1 Grand Prix finals again in 1997, where he lost to Dutch kick-boxing legend Ernesto Hoost by decision. He made it to the 1998 WGP final as well, where he lost to Peter Aerts by KO, although he became the first fighter to ever make three consecutive WGP finals.

In the first half of that year, Andy provided his fans with sensational fights. However at the World Grand Prix, fate wrecked his plans. In the second bout, he was up against Ernesto Hoost. As early as in the first round, the groin injury that he had sustained a month earlier became acute. This handicap was so severe that he could not employ his legs as he was used to doing, and dropped a decision.
In Japan he was given the name "Blue-Eyed Samurai", even though he had brown eyes. He was the only K-1 fighter ever to be rewarded an honorary samurai title by K-1 founder Kazuyoshi Ishii.

 His last fight was against Nobu Hayashi on July 7, 2000.

Andy Hug died in August 24, 2000 as a result of leukemia a few weeks short of his 36th birthday.
Andy's body was cremated and his ashes deposited in the cemetery of the Hoshuin temple in Kyoto, Japan.

Andy Hug - 1964-2000

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Our hearts go out to all the Mahood family as we all say goodbye to dear friend William

William Mahood: 1967 - 2011

Today (4/8/2011) was somewhat of an emotional day for some of the ProKick team and members as it was the day we all had to say our final goodbyes to former ProKick member William Mahood. The Painting Contractor from Belfast started training at ProKick 7 years ago. When asked why he got started in the sport, he stated, “My son Kane joined the beginners kids class at ProKick which gained my interest, I then joined 3 months later and have never looked back! I used to weigh nearly 15 stone and thanks to kickboxing, I have been able to keep my weight under control.”

William soon became a popular face at ProKick HQ in East Belfast, getting involved in all aspects of gym life from helping with the ProKick Kids to being a welcome helping hand at many of ProKick's competitive events. Very soon, there were 3 members of the Mahood family training at ProKick, William, Kane and sister Christine. William's son Kane also fought at an event in Switzerland in which many of the ProKick Kids were able to attend by way of a fundraiser.

Not only did William help out with many of the fundraising events for the trip, he also paid an outstanding £300 for a signed Northern Ireland Football Jersey. Committment and dedication such as this, was what William was known for by many in the gym for displaying. He was a good friend, team-mate and kickboxer and he will be sorely missed by everyone at the gym that was fortunate enough to meet him.

William was buried today from his home in Belfast and among those in attendance were ProKick members Gary Hamilton, Julie Cross, former fighter and ProKick coach Eddie Salmon, Kenneth Thornton, Fran Spence and Lisa McAlees. Many more ProKick members who knew William unforunately couldn't make it to the funeral but floods of good will messages have been pouring into the gym ever since the sad news of his passing was announced.

Again, so much so was the popularity of William, we will be arranging a special visit to show our support to the entire Mahood family next week when ProKick members, past and present will make their way up to pay their respects and say their own goodbyes. If anyone would like to attend, please drop us a line to the gym for further information and we will arrange something with the family.

Very shortly, we will be uploading various pictures and videos of William's time here at ProKick so please feel free to continue sending in your messages for the Mahood family, every message no matter how short is much appreciated. They have greatly appreciated every sentiment and in the mean time, should you wish to drop the family a message through us, click here

For those of you who didn't have the privilege to meet William, we have found his Profile Questionnaire whilst sorting through his various pictures and videos and we thought it would be a fitting gesture to let William tell you what he was like, in his own words.

What are your hobbies outside kickboxing?
Socialising, going to the cinema, crossword puzzles, making time for my family, travelling and work, work and more work!
Favourite food?
Any sort of meat!
Favourite films?
Anything gory, especially zombies!
Favourite Music?
Cyprus Hill, Kylie Minogue, Black Eyed Peas, basically all sorts
What is your occupation/job?
Painting Contractor
Favourite Holiday Destination?
Other information?
I have a lovely wife (but I'm still waiting on a call from Kylie) and two children for sale (any biders)


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Images from the Year of Kickboxing 2010

ProKick Kickboxing Review 2010

KICKBOXING’S Billy Murray is not the boastful sort but he should be for what he has accomplished for his club and for sport in Northern Ireland. Looking back at 2010 It’s been a busy year for the Prokick club but really there has been no let-up or difference from the last 20 years since ProKick was set-up as a fitness centre with a KICK

Six home shows between north and south of Ireland, ten trips and events away from home with an end of year hum-dinger, a tour of Japan with sparring and training with some of Japan's top End of Year Review from the ProKick GymPro's - and a fight of their own in a team event billed as Northern Ireland Vs Japan. Finishing off at ringside seat at the biggest kickboxing show on the planet - the K1 world Grand Prix final in Tokyo.

Few would begrudge Billy Murray the opportunity to shout out with confidence that the sport he loves is now a major player in the entertainment world.In a country besotted by boxing, Murray has fought against the grain for over 30 years as a fighter and promoter.But after a hugely successful 2010 Murray is confident kickboxing will become "bigger and better" in 2011.

A team from Northern Ireland at the UN day of Peace in Geneva 2010

The Belfast man was involved with twelve shows over the world in the past 12 months and took his young fighters to compete at the Place des Nations at the UN HQ Geneva for the International Day of Peace. Murray's Peace fighting initiative received a green light from Belfast City councillors and an endorsement by the Irish president.

On top of that events in England, Republic of Ireland, France, Geneva, Malta, Dubai, concluding with a trip of 15 members from all over Northern Ireland on a far-east tour of the home of martial arts - Japan.

- It happened - the World of Kickboxing came together on this day 20th November in Geneva Switzerland at the hotel de la Vendée. This was the first time that all world kickboxing sanction bodies agreed to sit together for the good of the sport as personal differences where left outside - Belfast's Billy Murray was a part of the Inaugural historical meeting.

World Kickboxing groups unite of the first time

Murray's TV productions have been receiving reruns on television stations across the world, with a new wave of coverage across the world.

"I never thought I'd say this, but kickboxing is now a big player in Irish sport and across the world. I am a big boxing fan and the people I know and respect from that fraternity are now telling me they are kickboxing fans even within the hype of the MMA frenzy."The most encouraging thing for me this year was the response of the media right across the world. Journalists and sports editors now recognise the value of kickboxing and I look forward to working with more of them in 2011."
Kickboxing montage 2010
Murray has changed his focus on marketing in the last couple of years as a lot of his energy has been directed to his web-site which is independently ranked as the highest rated sports web-site in Northern Ireland and growing daily. "It's exceeded my expectations," said ProKick founder and Irish Kickboxing lynchpin Billy Murray.

"I have always thought that at ProKick we lead rather than follow. We had a very good functioning site 10 years ago - before most organisations really even thought of it.

And a decade on, we wanted to have the best sporting site in the country - and I think we are very close to that now. It's more interactive, there is space for all sorts of audio and visual and it's the most important one-stop space for news and information about kickboxing, Irish Boxing and MMA events in Ireland and beyond."

Ernesto Hoost seminar at the ProKick Gym in Belfast

Below are the top 20 events that have helped make ProKick the premier kickboxing club in Ireland.

Bash n Mash- a black tie dinner awards night with bouts as entrainment.
Two Ernesto Hoost Seminars K1 legend teaches to up-n-coming fighters Part 1 & Part 2
Billy's Boot Camp - a 6am tough no-nonsense training camp for those who wanted more.

The Celts vs The Vikings

Two Next Generation events - events where first timers get a chance to shine.
Next Generation April 2010
The Celts vs the Vikings
Norway Vs Ireland - An eight man team event.

Alex Reid (Katie Price's husband) hits ProKick for training.
England Vs Northern Ireland in Belfast.
Malta was invaded by ProKick team on two separate events.
Mazan France, Gary Hamilton competes for a world title
Web-site independently ranked as the highest rated sports web-site in Northern Ireland and growing daily.
Murray's TV productions have been receiving reruns on television stations across the world, with a new wave of coverage across the world
The return - Northern Ireland ProKick team compete in Middlesbrough, London and Newcastle.
More beginners through the ProKick doors in 2010 then in any other year. 
France, ProKick members compete in championship. 
Fab Five -Prokicker's new elite members have joined the ranks of black belt. 
World Kickboxing groups unite for the first time - the World of Kickboxing came together on this day 20th November in Geneva Switzerland 
The Peace fighters - exchange blows at the UN headquarters Geneva - ProKick Kids from different committees compete as one.
Japan - competing, training, taking-in the biggest kickboxing event in the world the K1world Grand prix final.
Twelve Kids events along with the ones we attended away for home, finishing with a visit from Santa.


Stay tuned to for all the latest news, events.


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The government are now so concerned, that they're paying fat people to lose weight.

Fatties to Earn £500 to lose weight

New Plans by NHS (The National Health Service) to pay fat patients in the UK up to £500 each to lose weight in a frantic bid to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis.  Reported by the News of the World News paper today.

A huge sweetener will be dished out to overweight people when they prove they've beaten the blubber. And its reported the more pounds they take off, the more £s they'll get in their pockets.

The maximum payment will go, for instance, to a 15½st person who loses 50lb. He or she will pocket a whopping £425 for slimming to 12st.

Other payments would then follow on a sliding scale in the pay-as-you-go-smaller scheme. Someone who sheds 30lb will be rewarded with £160, and if they lose half that they'll pick up £70.

The NHS is buckling under the £1 billion it spends a year treating obesity-related diseases. NHS Health chiefs are also having to shell out thousands on special couches, weighing scales and blood pressure cuffs for overweight patients.

They reckon introducing fat-busting payments could save hundreds of millions in the long run, and help people live longer.

But the scheme is likely to attract criticism from some quarters as a jumbo waste of taxpayers' money.

  Below is one argument against giving the money and one for giving it.

By Carole Malone, News of the World columnist

FAT people know why they're fat. They eat too much. And no government is going to change that with something as simple as a bribe.

The only reason people lose weight is because THEY want to, NOT because someone pays them to. Yes, £500 might be a quick fix but it isn't a long-term solution because it doesn't involve the individual making a decision.

I've been fat. And I've been thin. And I know which feels best. As a kid my parents bribed me with extra pocket money if I didn't eat sweets so I wasn't teased. But the only time I've lost weight-and kept it off-was when I wanted to.

The government could make healthy food cheaper. But the bottom line is you can't force people to lose weight. Doctors can warn fatties about the health dangers, but until they decide to take their fate into their own hands they'll STAY fat.

By Winton Rossiter, founder of Weight Wins

AS another diet season swept over us in January, I asked myself: Why is it so difficult to lose weight, especially in the long term?

Often people join weight-loss groups and gyms only to drop out a few months later and put the weight back on. And home-exercise equipment usually ends up gathering dust.

The problem is a lack of motivation. All people want is a simple weight-loss goal and a reward for reaching it. So I decided to start a company.

Of course, there's nothing new about incentives to lose weight- people make informal weight challenges all the time. But we've designed a structured programme that maximises an individual's chances of success-and which REWARDS them for doing it.

And I decided to make the rewards big for maximum motivation.

For further info on this story log on to the

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For all our web surfers out there, you can use this plan along with your own fitness plan and martial art training.

Basic Training Program Level 1

Hi Guys, many of you in the sparring course along with some who have just finished their 6 week course have asked for additional training methods outside of the gym. Here is a very basic guide aimed at beginners to obtain a better fitness level and increase stamina and flexibility without over doing it. This plan is to coincide with a healthy eating plan and training twice a week at the ProKick gym.

When you complete the six weeks beginners’ course your classes should now be up to twice a week at ProKick. To enhance your progress - on the days you are not training at ProKick you should go for a brisk walk at least three times a week and gradually build to a light jog of 15 to 20 minutes.

Everyone is individually different and levels of progress are quicker for some, however stick with it as the running aspect is a basic ingredient which is necessary for success.

You should always try to finish your run with a short sprint when home is in sight - increase your speed until the finish line. Remember to warm up and warm down before running so as not pull any muscles - a warm-up/down as taught at the Prokick classes will suffice.

If you have spare time at home during the week then you could fit these additional training exercises below into your programme:
Skipping 3x1 minute rounds with a break just long enough to get your breath back.
Flexibility & Stretching using techniques shown at your Kickboxing class,
Floor exercises using basic Kickboxing techniques.
Shadowbox for 3 minutes to warm down.
Follow with some light stretching.
As this starts to get easier increase your times on each exercise.

If you have joined the ProKick Sparring classes you will under go fitness tests at various times. This will give both you and your instructor an indication of your fitness level and how you are progressing. If you opt out of additional training at home, then this will most likely show in your fitness tests.

This process will be repeated throughout your stay at Prokick. Your training schedule will then be assessed and adjusted depending on the outcome of your fitness test.

IMPORTANT To help keep track of your progress we advise that you keep a daily diary which will include the training you have accomplished, your weight and what you have eaten each day.

You should weigh yourself once or twice a week but, please make sure you do this at the same times of the day, either first or last thing of the day and don’t let yourself be disillusioned if you haven’t lost or gained weight (if that is your goal). Try and keep to your training and healthy eating plan the best you can.

Always consult your own GP before entering into any type of fitness or healthy eating plans as they will know the family history best.

If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to ask.

Billy Murray

Further Training programs will follow for fighters and the fitness fanatics.

Stay Tuned

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Van Damme brought massive popularity to the sport of Kickboxing

History of Kickboxing

The origins of Full Contact Kickboxing can be found in Thailand in the 2,000 year old discipline of Muay Thai fighting. Thai boxing was devised, initially, for self-defence. It only developed into a sport when unarmed combat in warfare became less and less effective. It remains the national sport of Thailand. Thai boxers are awarded the same superstar status in their home nation as premier league footballers in Europe or basketball players in the USA. Full Contact Kickboxing developed through a combination of Muay Thai and other martial art influences.

It was aided in its rise, when Bruce Lee exploded onto the big screen. The first time anything resembling what we now know as Full Contact Kickboxing began in the United States in the early 1970's as Full Contact Karate. In September 1974, in Los Angeles, the first ever World Championships of Full Contact Karate were hosted. At that time Karate's own sanctioning body, the PKA, provided the official nod that was required.

The bouts took place on a standard karate surface (no ring). Some of the best traditional Karate fighters of North America tried their hand at this fresh take on their ancient art. It wasn't until the late 1970's that the sport moved into a boxing ring. Initially, there were only weight 4 divisions. The first Full Contact World Champions were the legendary Jeff Smith, Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace & Isuena Duenas. From 1974 until 1985, the PKA was the most widely-recognised world-wide sanctioning group, even though it operated mainly in the USA.

Don & Judy Quine, along with Joe Corley, helped it on its way and were instrumental in establishing the first links with television. Their contract with the American TV network ESPN helped take the burgeoning sport to a wider audience. The PKA developed the first fighter ratings systems and presented their champions with a very real and very high profile. Jean-Yves Theriault, Brad Hefton, Jerry Trimble, Steve Shepard and others became the first stars of this new regulated sport.

The roots of the sport in Europe were planted in Germany. In 1975, an amateur organisation to rival the PKA appeared. The WAKO (WORLD ALL STYLE KARATE ORGANIZATION) was created by Georges Bruckner and was the only international amateur federation in Europe. Over the next decade a myriad of sanctioning bodies came and went - all claiming to represent the best interests of the fighters and the sport. WAKO has developed into the leading amateur federation in kickboxing. WAKO was taken over by Italian Ennio Falson in the late 1970’s.

Under the guidance of Mike Anderson a professional branch - the PKO (PROFESSIONAL KICKBOXING ORGANIZATION) - soon emerged. It was short-lived however and when Anderson retired, in 1991, it was replaced by the IKL (INTERNATIONAL KICKBOXING LEAGUE), which itself lasted only a few years. The WORLD KICKBOXING ASSOCIATION (WKA) was created in 1976 by Howard Hanson, a Shorin Ryu Karate black belt and student of Mike Stone. It developed the field of low kicks thanks to some strong Asian connections and good promotions in Japan. The WKA also prospered in Europe. Champions like Rob Kaman, Fred Royers, Ivan Sprang and Ronnie Green emerged over a decade ago and remain planted in the memory. When Howard HANSON sold the WKA to Canadian Dale Floyd in 1991 its North American activity started to fade. Newly appointed European directors Fred Royers from Holland and Jean-Paul Maillet from France left in January 1994 when Paul Ingram took over the prestigious federation and established its World headquarters in the UK. At the time, WKA was the second largest professional sanctioning organisation in the World.

When legal problems sent the PKA to the wall in 1985, five major USA-based promoters and PKA executives decided to create a new body. On July 16th 1986, the International Sport Kickboxing Association was born. Mike Sawyer, Karyn Turner, Tony Thompson, John Worley and Scott Coker where the first ISKA Directors in the USA. Most of the major PKA promoters began sanctioning their events with the ISKA and several joined its administration. Major title bouts featuring the sport's finest fighters were broadcast during 1986 on ESPN television network, and helped bring credibility and recognition to this new association. At the time, the intercontinental links were the weak part of those sanctioning bodies as WAKO was virtually non existent anywhere other than Europe and WKA was almost only active in Asia.

A European arm of ISKA was going to prove vital. In October 1986 Olivier Muller, Jérome Canabate and Mohamed Hosseini were appointed ISKA European directors. American Richard Mayor oversaw the establishment of this European wing as European President between 1986 and 1988. By 1991, the worldwide control of the ISKA was shared by co-chairmen - SAWYER and MULLER. It was their work that secured international TV coverage, that began to unite separate organisations springing up world-wide and took responsibility for sanctioning and grading.

During all these years, Thai-boxing remained the main fighting sport in Asia and is still controlled by the Thailand government. All sanctioning bodies sanction Muay-Thai titles but the WMTC remains the most credible organisation in Thai boxing. From 1996 until 1998 the ISKA was headed by Olivier Muller. In two years he revitalised and added fresh impetus to a management-heavy organisation - an organisation that in the early nineties had began to flag - and turned it into one that operated 60% of world-wide kickboxing business.

ISKA to WKN. But as before, minor squabbles led to a split. The younger blood that led the European charge has become disillusioned with the incumbent American leaders and a fresh body (the WKN) evolved in late 1994 as a subsidiary of ISKA to capture another part of the market. Unfortunately the Americans saw the WKN as a threat and in late 1998 the organisations split. The departure of Muller from the scene was imminent. A tight, young team runs the WKN, chaired by Frenchman Stephane Cabrerra, Billy Murray and Olivier Muller. Other big names in the world of Kickboxing have followed. Already the organisation has seen their fighters on several Don King under-cards with more to follow soon.

WKN - A 21st Century Kickboxing Federation!

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Muay-Thai fighter demonstrating technique

Motivation in Martial Arts - Part 2

“First we form habits, then they form us.” What can you do to maintain motivation? There are many ways to do this and the answer that sits best with you will not always reflect the reason you had for signing up to begin with. For example, you could have started training to lose weight, to learn self-defence, or to increase fitness levels but continued to train once you achieved this to some degree.

If your initial goal was a short-term gain you’ll feel the pull to give up sooner than most so read on if you want some tips on staying power.

Make A Commitment. View your training as a permanent feature in your life; try to see it as a long-term investment in your body. Once you have accepted any form of athletic training as a fixed feature in your life it feels natural and right to train at every given opportunity, and unnatural and frustrating not to.

Keep Track of Your Progress. By setting yourself daily, (or weekly), measurable and reasonable goals you allow yourself to feel successful more often. Take pride in the achievement of these goals, only you really know how hard you worked to achieve them.

Make The Effort and Be Accountable. Realise that your energy and attitude are essential ingredients to your success in training, (your instructor is vital too but we’ll get to that next time). Enthusiasm will not maintain itself so be practical, you are the driving force in your training and only you can guarantee that you will turn up on any given night.

Keeping `Your Eye on The Prize` is another way to motivate yourself. Although this can present its own frustrations if you don’t remain realistic, it is still a valuable tool if you’re in it for the long run.

Remember nothing will work unless you do so try substituting a night at home, or the local gym, with one at your nearest Prokick venue. No two classes are the same, which keeps things interesting for instructor and students alike.

Sign up to Prokicks beginners class, relish 6 weeks of it and give everyone earache telling them how wonderful your life is now …The reason you’ll come back to Prokick is the obvious one…you’ll love it.

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The Martial Arts Bow

The Martial Arts Bow

“The rice stalk that carries the most grain bends the lowest”. Although there are many traditions in Martial Arts the bow is one of the most misunderstood. Many people think of it as a religious behaviour, or as a sign of a master-slave type relationship between an instructor and student. Both interpretations are false.

If you were to compare the Asian bow to a Western tradition it would most closely resemble the handshake. There is nothing religious about either, they are simply actions which allow respect to flow both ways. They show appreciation and courtesy and in no way are associated with an attitude of subservience.

During training at Prokick, instructors bow to students, as well as students to instructors.We bow to our instructors to show our respect and gratitude for their time and teachings, and to signify that we are concentrating on the task and training ahead.Bowing should be done prior to, and immediately after sparring. We bow to our partner, (or opponent), to indicate to each other that we are alert and ready. The bow after the sparring shows our gratitude to the other person.At the beginning of each session we bow to indicate that we are clearing our minds of daily problems and events. In effect we are “emptying our cup” which will help us to absorb the techniques we are about to learn.

The bow also displays a lack of arrogance; it indicates that any egos have been “checked in” at the door. Understanding that you do not already know all there is to know is very important in Martial Arts. If you feel that you know everything already it will be impossible to learn anything new, as the old adage goes, a cup that is already full can hold no more.The contents on this page has only touched on the subject of the bow, there is an interesting history behind the origins. Seeking out additional knowledge is way of complementing our physical training, increasing our respect for our chosen discipline, and or course, adding another ingredient to our cup.To find out more about Martial Arts etiquette keep up-to-date with Prokick.ComHave you got any thoughts to share? Please use the comments box below.

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Motivation in the Martial Arts

Motivation in Martial Arts

“Some succeed because they are destined to, but most succeed because they were determined to.” Motivation in Martial Arts is essential, you need it to get started and it’s also the driving force that keeps you going once the novelty wears off.

Most students have the same goal: to get good at what they are learning, usually as quickly as possible. Sometimes expectations are that once the technique is taught then grading should take place and a belt be presented. The desire to progress is natural, after all that’s why you give up your free time, money and effort.

When results don’t appear as quickly as expected motivation can disappear. This initial disappointment is often followed by a tendency to attend fewer lessons, fail to progress and then quit. Once enthusiastic beginners leave feeling that Martial Arts was fun for a while but “just wasn’t for me”.

To avoid this discuss with Mr Murray how much time to expect between grading and leave your mobile number with Fran to be alerted of future gradings. You will be informed about grading during your introductory classes but it doesn’t hurt to enquire again. Timescales will vary between individuals depending on attendance, attitude and natural ability.

Understand that only the first half of each level spent may be spent learning new skills. The second half will usually focus on developing a true understanding of the technique, as well as teaching your body to perform it like a reflex action. Accept that this requires commitment and patience, and that it can take more training time than you initially expected.

Take pride in the progress you make, no matter how slow it seems and don’t forget to look back at how much you have learned and achieved. Try to remember how unnatural it once felt to perform each technique, of course we all have days when we feel we’re back to square one but don’t dwell there.

Sometimes the hardest part of a days training is actually turning up to class. One way to combat this is by turning up to class ten minutes early to see the higher levels training, it can help to get a preview of what you could achieve.

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