Gary McDonnell with gold medal and trophy, with clubmates and coaches at Claremorris Kickboxing Club.

New European kickboxing champion a member of Mayo club

KICKBOXER Gary McDonnell, who trains out of Claremorris Ultimate Kickboxing Club, was crowned WAKO lightweight European champion. The championships were held in Antalya Turkey from November 12 to November 20.

Gary and Team Ireland travelled to Turkey with a strong team made up of 40 members including competitors and coaches. Gary, who competes in full-contact kickboxing, had his sights set on becoming the first-ever Irish person to win this prestigious title. Before this tournament, Gary, a native of Ballinasloe, was ranked number two in the WAKO world ranking and is no stranger to the number one spot on the podium.

Gary's brother Malachy also boxes for the club and won an Irish semipro boxing title earlier this year.

It has been an action-packed year for Gary, travelling to Dublin every Sunday for squad training and also travelling to Norway in March, Hungary in June, Finland in July, Spain in September and Turkey to bring the 2022 session to an end.

Gary started his European campaign off with a bang with a first-round stoppage over Danylo Prolomov of Ukraine. This put him into the final against Battalay Seyit of Turkey who is ranked number one in the world. This only added to Gary’s determination as he was now gunning for the number one world ranking and the European title. Seyit was the hot favourite going into this tournament.

The final was live on Turkish television with a packed stadium in support of the Turkish fighter. Gary started strong and fast as he always does and kept this momentum going from bell to bell. The Irish fighter didn’t give his Turkish opponent an inch and kept to his plan. This left the judges no option but to give McDonnell a unanimous win.

Gary gave thanks to national coaches Jim Upton and Jon Mackey for all their hard work all year long, and to Edwin Heffernan for helping with injuries before the final.

He went on to thank Phelim Halligan and Claremorris Ultimate Kickboxing Club for all the sparring and pad work and for believing in him.

Gary would also like to congratulate Team Ireland on this year’s success especially his sparring partner Adam Condon who also won gold. Gary would also like to thank his number one supporter and girlfriend Aisling Hynes who he looks forward to taking a well-deserved break with over Christmas.