Top Ring Kickboxing club are set to jet off to Albir, Spain, next Wednesday, to represent Northern Ireland in the World Kickboxing Union Championships.
The club’s fighters will come up against the best from across the globe as they compete in a variety of events across a range of categories and weight divisions, from full contact to light contact, to Pointfighting and Mixed Martial Arts.
They have a range of male and female fighters, representing a variety of different weight and age divisions, with members aged as young as eight years old up to the club’s adult more expereinced fighters.
Top Ring fighter, Caroline Cole, who will be there in Albir next week, gave us a rundown of this year’s event and told us a little bit about the Londonderry club.
The team has been training tirelessly, four or five times a week.
For the last 10 months since qualifying in January, alongside clubs from Limavady, Strabane and Belfast who together make up the 60-strong Northern Ireland squad.
Out of the 60, six of the most promising fighters will be selected to compete for Northern Ireland in the team events.
Last year the club played a vital role in securing Northern Ireland’s third place finish, falling just short of the English and Germans who produce almost three times the squad numbers Northern Ireland can.
The schedule for the Championships will be fairly hectic, with rigorous training in between fights over the course of the five days. “It’s no holiday, that’s for sure,” she admitted.
Top ring have a total of nine World Champions in their midst already who will have their backs to the wall defending their titles in Albir. After bringing home an extra three titles last year, the rest of the club will hopefully get their shot at expanding on that number.
And with success, comes recognition, but Kickboxing has yet to be recognised as a sport in Northern Ireland, and for that reason the club are unable to secure any government sponsored funding.
“Unfortunately, because Kickboxing is not a recognised sport here, without a governing body, there’s no chance of any government or council funding,” she added.
“Boxing is a recognised sport, Sword fighting, Judo, Tae Kwon Do are all recognised but Kickboxing for whatever reason still isn’t.
“It makes it difficult for the club, as we depend on the generosity of club members, parents and donations from the general public to fund our trips.
“The World Championships are such a huge opportunity, especially for the children in the club, who get to meet new people from across the world and experience and see things that they normally wouldn’t.
“They love the fact they go out there as part of a big team.”
Top Ring aim to give back to the community, whose donations they depend on, as often as they can, by putting together Fight Nights, collections and kids parties. They have scheduled a fight show for January 2016, the proceeds of which will go towards helping a local charity.
They hope for the January exhibition, that there’ll be plenty more World Champions on show displaying their skills.