Fight night is practice for prague

Amy Lewis

Published 13/10/2015 | 00:00

Cora Harris and Shauna Hume at White's Hotel.
Cora Harris and Shauna Hume at White's Hotel.
Breanna Sludds and Zara Jones at the fight night in White's Hotel.
Naoise McManus and Amy O'Keeffe at the fight night in White's Hotel.
Chris Kelly and Cody O'Connor at the fight night in White's Hotel.
Amy O'Connor and Sarah Cassidy at the fight night in White's Hotel.
Naoise McManus and Amy O'Keeffe at the fight night in White's Hotel.

Wexford's young people are certainly alive and kicking if the recent Dynamic Kickboxing Academy fight night in White's Hotel is anything to go by.

At the exciting event, local fighters as young as eight battled against competitors from all across the country, with many of them taking home winning titles for the Drinagh club. Though it was the club's inaugural fight night, chief instructor Robbie Slubbs hopes that it will be the first of many.

'I strongly believe in praising my students and encouraging them to compete like this,' he said. 'Taking part in competitions really does help them to get better.'

Of course, it wasn't only junior fighters battling it out in the ring on the night. Many of the club's adult fighters were also showing off their skills, including 23-year-old Fiona McNeill from Wexford, who won the final fight of the night against Catherine Butler from Waterford.

'From the start, both of the ladies were technically brilliant, showing great composure and combinations. However, Fiona's hard-hitting and quick movements won her the fight, as well as the title of best fighter of the night,' said Robbie. 'It was certainly well-deserved. She is destined to go on to great things.'

Although the fight night was a success in itself, its true purpose was to raise funds for a bigger challenge. From November 3 until November 8, 15 of the club's fighters will be in Budapest to compete in the World Kickboxing Federation European Championships, a trip that requires €10,000 of funding for flights, uniforms and other necessities.

According to Robbie, the club is thrilled with the amount of support that they received at their many fundraisers.

'Through bag-packing, demo nights, racing nights and the fight night, we have managed to raise the money,' said Robbie. 'The students have put in a lot of hard work, as have many of their parents, and I am so grateful for their efforts.'

With their sights now set on Hungary, the 15 Dynamic boxers are well into training mode, with some of the fighters joining Robbie for practice four nights a week at Studio 4 Dance and Fitness Studio.

'I am confident that both the juniors and the adults will do very well in the competition,' he said. 'They have been working really hard over the past while. The fight night was a great practice run for them.'

Of all of the Dynamic fighters travelling to Budapest, nine of them are junior fighters. The youngest, Shauna Hume from Barntown, is only eight years old, while the oldest participants competing are brothers Declan (39) and Noel Cullen (37), who will be boxing at veteran level. However, according to Robbie, age is not an important factor when it comes to kickboxing.

'They are all important to me,' he said. 'I believe that no kickboxing club is a club without students.'

Dynamic also has plenty of talented female members, Robbie said.

'We have a lot of girls, particularly at junior level. All of the girls that train with us have great drive,' he said. 'They're not afraid of anything at all and they train just as hard as the boys.'

Dynamic will be sending more fighters to Hungary than any other boxing club in Ireland, a remarkable achievement considering that the club is only three years in existence.

'I don't think anyone realises just how many people we are sending over,' said Robbie, who said that he is very proud of his group.

This isn't the first major competition for the kickboxing club, who are part of the World Kickboxing Federation, one of the oldest kickboxing organisations in the world. Since the Dynamic Academy was established, they have clocked up 350 medals from wins in local, national and international competitions. These competitions were fought in three disciplines - points fighting, light continuous and full contact. Notably, in 2014, four Dynamic fighters managed to bring home the combined total of seven world championship medals from the WKF World Championships in Prague. One of the winners was Robbie's cousin, nine-year-old Brianna Sludds-Keane, who took home two gold medals.

With plenty of awards, determination and practice under their belts, it is no surprise that Robbie is feeling confident in his 15 fighters. If their previous success is anything to go by, they're certainly sure to put up a good fight.

Wexford People

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