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Friday 15 December 2017

MMA fighter Fionn to compete at worlds

By David looby

Fionn Healy-Magwa (left) in action.
Fionn Healy-Magwa (left) in action.
Fionn Healy-Magwa (left) in action.

AN MMA fighter from New Ross - who is a Trinity College graduate - is representing Ireland at the World Championships of Amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in Bahrain next month.

Fionn Healy-Magwa (25) from Ard Alainn, is a Trinity educated physiotherapist, who started fighting in MMA in 2015 having become obsessed with the sport. Fionn was always into sports and played rugby for Good Counsel College, where he was a student. He also played for New Ross Rugby Club. While in First Year in Trinity he decided to finish playing rugby. 'I was looking for something new and I started watching MMA and I fell in love with the sport. I was studying Physiotherapy at Trinity at the time with a view to going into business.'

Fionn graduated in 2014 and committed to making a career of MMA, having trained for a time at the SPG gym under John Kavanagh, Conor McGregor's coach. 'I knew MMA is what I wanted to do. It was my passion. My motivation is always to test myself and to see how far I can go in this sport.'

He moved to Liverpool where he worked long hours as a physiotherapist, but felt his dream was slipping away from him. 'Half way through that year (2015) I had my first fight which I won through a flying knee knock out. It was a nice bonus. I went on a winning streak and decided that I wanted to move back to Dublin to the SPG gym, where Conor McGregor was. A lot of the talent in Europe was flocking to the gym at that time and I thought to myself that I needed to be there.'

McGregor, who was quickly becoming one of the world's most famous MMA fighters, had been Fionn's striking coach. 'He was a phenomenal coach, really. Very intense.'

Fionn moved back to Dublin in 2016 and started training with Kavanagh. The ambitious young New Ross man said: 'I felt that I wanted to be the first Irish world champion. That was before Conor blew up. It was inspirational being in the gym seeing how the top 1 per cent in the sport train and to see how far they could go.'

Fionn had some wins and some losses in Dublin. 'With any of my losses I always kept that bigger picture in mind.'

Fionn defeated an up-and-coming fighter, Stephen Costello, in late September, qualifying him for the Irish MMA team for the World Championships of Amateur MMA, through a third round knock out. 'My goal is to go there and to bring a gold medal back and then to go professional. I'm feeling phenomenal.'

The 6ft 2, 83 kilo (182lb) New Ross man - who is renowned for his kicking ability - is looking forward to the exposure he will receive fighting in Bahrain. 'The championships are being streamed on UFC and there will be promoters. It's a huge opportunity.'

Fionn trains four to five hours a day, working on strength conditioning and fight drills, before getting a nap and going to work in a pub.

He has won by knock outs three times and is trained in jiu jitsu and will need all his skill to triumph against the world's best, He has a sports nutritionist, which he said, is vital for recovery and performance. 'I manage and monitor every calorie I take in. No fast food for me, but I'll go to the Penguin (take away) if I win,' he joked.

He has suffered one major injury while wrestling in 2015, but made a full recovery. Fionn trains with Brian Moore, an MMA professional from Wexford town, and hopes to emulate his career path into professional fighting in early 2018. 'As an amateur you are trying to build up your (win) record and get a fan base. When you go professional an agency gives you a contract for three fights and you start getting paid. To date I have only been taking ticket sales and I got a bonus for a knock out. I am working in a pub on Wexford Street called The Jar who have been very supportive of me. I have received sponsorship from family and friends and have a GoFundMe page. A lot of people have helped me out. I would like to thank everyone for their support and donations to my fund raising for my trip without which I wouldn't be able to do any of this.'

Fionn is looking for a main sponsor to help him as he moves into the professional fighting world, but says he will finance the move himself if necessary. He competes in the world amateur competitions which runs in Bahrain from November 12 to November 19.

Wexford People

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