By Kieran Murphy
CARLOW’S Brian O’Donoghue achieved a long-held ambition when he won the WFM (World Federation in Elite Martial Arts) kickboxing championship in Dubai recently.
To even get a shot at a world title was an achievement in itself but over three two-minute rounds he out-fought and out-classed an Egyptian opponent to take the WFM belt back to his native Carlow.
Aged 36 and originally from the Fighting Cocks, he is now living in Ballinabranna. He played football at minor level but kickboxing was his first love. As there was no club in Carlow at the time he joined Kinetic Kickboxing club in Wexford. It meant spending more time travelling but his commitment and ambition saw him improve to a point where he obtained his black-belt last year.
He then qualified for the WFM event in Dubai when making his mark in a Best of the Best Competition in Dublin some months ago.
Six fighters travelled to the Middle East with three Irish fighters coming back with gold medals.
“We were the first Irish to fight over there in a competition of that importance,” said Brian who is targeting a trip to Italy in July. There is also a possibility of a fight in Uganda. While it might come too late for the Carlow man the organisation is targetting the Olympic Games as another forum to showcase the sport.
He has his own fitness club now in Carlow where 30 young students and 40 adults are put through their paces at The Fit Club in Graiguecullen.
“It is becoming a very big sport. Our aim is to get the young involved, get fighters off the computers and have them training,” said Brian who had to take two years out of the game after suffering a brain injury. He is fit again and enjoys mixing teaching and fighting.
“A lot of it is just keeping fit. Only a percentage go fighting. It is nice to be able to teach and then go and do something like winning a world title.”
Meanwhile, he is spurred by the memory of the wonderful memories of his victory in Dubai where the Irish flag was draped around his shoulders after his win.
It was big for Irish kickboxing. It was great to be fighting for my country.
“That flag goes everywhere with me,” he smiled proudly.