1 week out from a major show at Neptune stadium – the biggest fight venue in Cork City, I’m inspired by the scale of it all. Martin Horgan of Siam Warriors goes all in with every show that he promotes, investing time, money and his reputation to bring fighters from all over the world to our doorstep. This show is no different with big names like “Liam Harrison”, “Dane ‘Daddy Kool’ Beachamp”, “Anthony ‘Kabouter’ Kane” and “Craig Jose” all travelling to put their bodies on the line. For Muay Thai enthusiasts, these names are very familiar but for those of us involved in other martial arts, a quick youtube search will tell you that these guys are not coming here for a tickling orgy.
The international talent aside, what really makes this show, and the others that have gone before it, is the home-grown talent on the card. Cork people are proud; Proud of their rebellious reputation and their fighting Irish persona and we’ll crawl butt naked over thumbtacks to support our own warriors. On this card, Cork is represented by Aaron O’Callaghan, Sean Clancy, Dave O’Brien, Shane O’Neill, Johnny Sheehan, Elain McElligott, Derek Flynn, Wayne Sheehan, Eoin McCarthy, Barry O’Connor, Conor O’Keefe, Killian Bush, Mark O’Mahony, Steve O’Mahony, Gar Byrne, Andy Reck.
At K2C, we have 2 extra reasons to be in full voice at Neptune. A young Spartan Thai warrior we’ve been keeping an eye on since he was a junior is Dommie Kelly – mentored by Seamus Cogan and John Kelly out in Spartan Thai Ballincollig. The first time I ever tried a Muay Thai class was at the Spartan gym and Dommie was just between the junior and adult classes – age wise. Next week, he’ll been opening the show with a tough fight and I’m sure he’ll do his coaches proud. Of course, there will be an eruption when a certain Darren Cashman makes his way to the ring. His Muay Thai students at K2C will tear the roof off the venue and will be behind him for every jab, cross, hook, elbow and knee. Robert NG will have to be ready to fight an entire army of Cashamaniacs!
When you look at the card, you have to admire the strength of Cork Muay Thai. It seems like there’s a massive stable of top fighters, all in great shape and all challenging the very in best the world. But as you analyse it more, you begin to realise that this Cork team is assembled from a range of gyms. From Siam Warriors in Blarney Street, Cork Thai in MacCurtin Street, Spartan Thai in Ballincollig, Cobra Thai in Tramore Road and Midleton Thai. Of course there are a number of other great gyms who regularly take part in these shows including Brucie’s Gym in Bandon, Fight Factory in Fermoy and a whole load of others which I’m sure I’ve left out or haven’t gotten to know yet.
Coming from a karate background, I greatly admire the level of cooperation between the Muay Thai clubs and the scale of this upcoming show is a direct result of that patience, compromise and camaraderie. I’m sure the clubs have rivalries and at times don’t get along but the ability to rise above it all and pull together events like these means that each subsequent generation of fighters gets stronger, more skilled and more inspired as they get to witness the best of the best compete in their own backyard. All instructors involved from all the clubs listed above should be very proud of this.
I’ve witnessed and been part of a generation of karate clubs who bicker, belittle each other and refuse to work together. I’m ashamed of it and I hope in seeing the success of Cork Muay Thai, that my peers will join me and come to the realisation that by not coming together if only for local tournaments a few times per year, or for seminars, we are only destroying our own martial art. By operating in mutual isolation, we are missing out on the “iron sharpens iron” effect of local competition and we are not realising the “Strength in Numbers” which makes events such as next week’s.
In recent years, I’ve tended towards BJJ, MMA and kickboxing. While not as bad as karate (cooperation wise), it’s not as good as Muay Thai. Across the board, I think we all have a lot to learn and I hope to play my part from here on to help foster cooperation between all the clubs in all the martial arts we host at K2C.
A man who may well be years ahead of me, is Leonard Coughlan from CMAP.ie who will, no doubt, be at the show in Neptune next week. CMAP is a voluntary undertaking of Leonard’s aimed to promote all martial arts in Cork. Like Martin Horgan, he has invested considerable time and effort into this project and deserves support and respect for the service he is doing his fellow martial artists.
For any martial arts instructors of any discipline out there who might be reading this, I urge you to make contact with Leonard and avail of his directory of Cork based martial arts clubs. He’s one of the good guys and is genuinely not looking for anything off of you. That may seem odd, but it’s true! And that’s coming from me (a karate guy) about Leonard (a taekwondo guy) and as everyone know, we’re supposed to hate each other
I’m off to think about how I can do my bit to practice what I preach. First on the list is an open invitation BJJ rolling session. If you’re into BJJ, let me know if you’re interested in getting involved in a one day open sparring session?
Till next time folks – “Take care and take care of each other” – Jerry Springer