Whittlesey kickboxer becomes an international champion!
By ADAM LAZZARI SEVEN years ago Ryan Connor took up kickboxing to help his brother, who was getting bullied at school. This week he is an international champion. Connor, 23, from Whittlesey was crowned Irish Open over 80kg Continuous Champion in Dublin at
By ADAM LAZZARI
SEVEN years ago Ryan Connor took up kickboxing to help his brother, who was getting bullied at school.
This week he is an international champion.
Connor, 23, from Whittlesey was crowned Irish Open over 80kg Continuous Champion in Dublin at the weekend.
The Irish Open is Europe's largest martial arts tournament and it is estimated that more than 2,000 fighters, including American world champion Raymond Daniels, competed in different age, sex and weight categories over two days.
Connor said: "It was awesome. I trained hard and I went there full of confidence.
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"I was a bit apprehensive as I had never fought at international level before but all the hard work has paid off."
Connor won four fights to become champion.
He fought men from Italy, Ireland and a fellow Englishman that he described as "an animal" in the final.
He said: "At 81kg I was the lightest fighter in my category. My opponent was between 90 and 100kg.
"I watched him knock someone out in his semi-final so I knew I have to use my speed and kicks to keep him away from me and I landed some quick punches over the top."
Connor narrowly missed out on a place in the England squad for the World Championships at a qualifier last month, but his weekend's performance earned him a place as an England reserve for the event, back in Dublin, later this year.
His opponent in the final was coached by an England squad coach.
Connor, a member of the British Chinese Kickboxing Association Club in Whittlesey, narrowly missed out on silverware in the points section, losing out to the eventual winner of the category.
His club-mate Aaron Godden, 33, from March, also competed at the event, in the under-80kg category.
He won first round fights in the continuous and points sections but narrowly lost second-round matches, going out in extra-time in the points.
Connor said: "I watched Aaron's fights and his speed and stamina were superb. He was really unlucky not to go further."
Godden said: "It was the best I've ever fought and the best I've seen from Ryan - he was phenomenal. Not many people win a trophy from their first trip to Ireland."
Whittlesey coach Andy Whitwell said: "Both lads are buzzing and I am very proud of them for doing so well in their first international outing. There is a lot more to come from these fighters. They will continue to work hard and enter more events in the coming months.