Academy Fighters Shine on World Stage
ICO WORLD CUP 2017
19 of The Combat Academy's finest students took on the Worlds best this past October when they fought as part of the 200 strong Team England Kickboxing squad. Having travelled as far and wide as Italy, Germany & France for these events in the past we were lucky to finally be attending a World Championships in our home country in the great city of Birmingham.
The team competed in various Kickboxing disciplines including, Ring Continuous and K1 and as is the Academy way we medalled in all of them.
Academy chief instructor was on double duties for this event working not only as Academy coach but also as one of three National Coaches to the whole of Team England. Mick was tasked with the role of selecting and managing the whole of the ICO Team England Northern squad. Here was Mick's official statement after the event;
"Wow!! Where to start on this amazing tournament. There are so many stand out qualities and moments its hard to cover everything but i will try to cover what for me are the most important takeaways.
Firstly - the chief Mr Andrew Hennessy. This man is a true leader who brings ethics & values of the highest order to everything he touches. The ICO is built on a bedrock of integrity, respect and a people centred approach that values quality martial arts, fair play and a commitment to doing things the right way without compromise.
Its no coincidence that the ICO has so many accomplished individuals all working in and on its behalf. Andy and what he stands for is what attracts these highly talented individuals and his conduct in all matters is what inspires their loyalty and commitment to the ICO.
I would personally like to say a huge thank you to Andy and his wife Fiona Hennessy for being genuinely passionate, skilled & committed in what they do not only with the world championships but also the year round support and guidance that goes into making the ICO such a great organisation to be a part of.
Secondly i would like to mention my own team of fighters. We had an amazing adventure as always at these things and you guys did an awesome job turning out a huge Haul of medals at what was a very very high standard tournament.
I can't mention everyone but the stand outs for me were as follows;
Brogan David Wilson was my man of the tournament. After coming off of a loss recently i felt bad because i had put him in a big fight knowing he was ring rusty and not firing on all cylinders but in truth i had underestimated both his opponent and the effects of ring rust on him. So the mission with brog was to re-discover his rythmn, timing & distance as well as re connecting with the fundamentals which he had neglected recently.
We did that on day one on the mats where he picked up 3 easy wins on the mats cruising to a Gold medal and knocking off some of his rust in the process.
Next up on day 2 was our real challenge. Brogan entered the K1 division and in his first ever K1 fight he was going up against the awesomely talented and previously undefeated reigining British, 5 nations and IKF World Champion Alex Hook from the Mighty Assassins gym. Alex is a formidable opponent for anyone let alone your first ever K1 fight.
Brogan rose to the challenge and seemed to recapture his old form not only putting in a beautiful and rounded performance but also looking like a natural in k1 blending in knees and low kicks with his sublime boxing, spinning kicks and body attacks. Brogan won both rounds of the fast pace fight but Alex showed his mettle taking some amazing shots and putting in some fantastic work pressuring Brogan and going to the body hard.
This was for me fight of the tournament with both lads showing awesome skills and being a credit to their respective coaches and the whole of Team England.
After this Brogan fought a strong French fighter who he outmanned and outgunned in the final to take the ICO World Open K1 Title in only his first ever attempt at the discipline. The 2 golds and a much needed return to form against the highest possible calibre of opponents is what made this my favourite fighter of the 2017 worlds.
Another stand out was the academies rising star Gasan Gindra. Gasan weighed in for the minus 50k category but chose to move up to the 55kg category in the K1 division to ensure that both himself and his Academy tea mate Seth Housley had a clear run at Gold without them having to face each other.
A 5 KG deficit when your only 50kg as it is is some disadvantage. But the risk was calculated as we knew that Gasans silky skills could carry him through against any threat. First up he faced a tough Ukranian who looked massive at the side of Gasan. Gas used his lack of size to his advantage and was like the needle in a haystack for his bigger opponent who just couldnt find him despite getting picked off with heavy hands and clean kicks throughout the bout.
In the final Gas faced a much more difficult challenge when he met the Assassins other top K1 stylist - English & British champion Tommy West Jr. Tommy was coming off of probably the most impressive finish of the tournament after beating up his German opponent in brutal style before eventually finishing him with a two touch roundhouse kick.
Gasan & Tommy are no strangers having met 4 times previously. Gasan has been the victor 3 times out of the 4 but this time things were different with West Jr boiling down to the weight and coming in with much more muscle and at least a 5kg weight advantage. Despite this the fight looked evenly matched and was nip and tuck throughout. Gasan landed a higher volume of shots with much cleaner boxing and lots of body kicks getting through. West focused on big power round kicks and was working kick catches and take downs impressively. After the final bell went Gasans cleaner more consistent work got the nod and gave Gasan his first of an eventual 2 gold medals (which he received in the Full Contaact Kickboxing division).
Other stand outs included - Blaine Dylan Wilson who broke his knuckle in his Gold medal winning fights on the mats before winning his semi final literally with only his left hand and two legs and then withdrawing in the ring continuous.
Craig Hardcastle who beat Ireland and New Zealand in his first ever time fighting to take Gold. Rosie Longley who picked up too golds in her own categories and then moved up a weight to grab a Silver in the weight above. Paul Paszek who with only very limited experience fought in 4 seperate divisions picking up medals in each as well as some battle scars in some of the incredible wars he had. Nathan Hill who picked up two golds in both kickboxing & K1. Seth Housley who bagged dbl gold in the K1 Full and K1 continuous cats and Callum Hennessey who fought through 3 wars to grab a Gold in his first ever World Championships. Young Callum Cope, Owen Deakin & Sonny Roydon Greaves all picked up Golds too and we had loads of fantastic fights from the rest of the team with almost everyone medalling with great performances in hard fought fights. Adam Paszek also shone in a last minute K1 debut that produced a bronze medal win and Eva Longleywowed the crowd in her fights on the mats that eventually yielded a silver. The rest of our team including Owen Paszek, Carson Bentley Ian Lee, Aaron Gibbs, & Simon Powell who all did us proud with their efforts.
Finally i would just like to say a huge well done to the rest of Team England. Especially the Northern Team who trained together at my gym in the run up to the event.
The Impact team were amazing and a credit to their awesome coaches Alan& Caitlin Chapman and picked up a load of medals. I was especially impressed with young Mary Corbyn and Zak English who was fantastic in his K1 fights and obviously Caitlin and Allen themselves who performaed amazingly. I didnt get to see everyone for Impact but these guys were a treat to watch and a fine example of the quality that the Impact Team bring.
In addition to these guys Tony T-Bone Dias brought his fantastic fighters and were involved in some fantastic scraps. Young Rio in particular was a head turner.
And finally for our team were Shawn Burton's fighters Kraig Green, Keegan Roberts & Lucas Nanaz were an absolute credit to their team. Sublimely skilled, teak tough and ready to fight every second of the day. All three impressed with great performances and lots of fights in the bank and another horde of medals to take home for their trouble.
All in all the northern squad picked up 63 medals with 30 Gold, 24 silver and 9 Bronze.
Finally i would just like to say a massive thank you to all the supporters and spectators who attended. Especially parents and family members who helped their guys endure the long difficult training camp and supported them with their strict regime. You guys make these events what they are - memories to last a lifetime!
Fantastic experience. Great fights, even better memories and great team work across the board on every level."
All in all it proved to be a very successful trip for The Combat Academy. We cannot wait for the next one!