Midleton's Jack Connolly shines at World Youth MMA Championships

Bronze medal for Corkonian who has made great progress at SBG Gym on the Mallow Road
Midleton's Jack Connolly shines at World Youth MMA Championships

World Youth MMA bronze-medallist Jack Connolly with his proud parents Noelle and Tony. Picture: John Walshe

ALTHOUGH only four young athletes from Cork travelled to the recent World Youth MMA Championships in far-away Abu Dhabi, all performed with distinction.

Amongst them was Jack Connolly from Midleton who returned the proud possessor of a bronze medal. But what made the 15-year-old’s achievement all the more remarkable is that he has only been involved in the sport for just over 12 months.

Competing against the world’s best in the magnificent setting of the United Arab Emirates complex didn’t overawe the Midleton teenager, as he explained: “Flying over there, I wasn’t really expecting much, I was using it more to gain experience so coming away with a medal was great.

“I had three fights and I won one and lost two. I was up against two lads from the UAE and one from the USA,” said Jack, who is already back in training for his next fight.

“I have a smaller competition in October in Dublin and I’ll be doing a few of them over the coming months.

“Then I’ll try and repeat the process at the world championship next year and hopefully do a bit better."

PRIDE

Like most young lads, Jack tried all the usual sports but it was kick-boxing that first caught his attention.

“I started that at the Lifetime Martial Arts here in Midleton when I was eight,” he says.

“I saw the kick-boxing building when I was even younger and asked my parents if I could do it and they said no, but a few years later they said yes. 

I didn’t really like the other sports so when I got into this I loved it straight away.”

Over a year ago, Jack started MMA and teamed up with the SBG Gym on the Mallow Road where he trains four or five times a week.

His qualification came through his performance at the national championships where he finished second.

Jack’s parents, Noelle and Tony, along with his sister Jessica, are fully behind him and his dedication and commitment is both a source of pride and joy to the family.

“Although the sport takes place in the cage, as Jack is under 18 there are no head shots,” explains Noelle.

“The rules are very strict, the refereeing is superb and if there is any bit of danger at all they’ll stop the fight,” she adds.

As the sport gets no funding, all of Jack’s expenses had to be covered by his parents.

Therefore, when Keary Motors (Renault & Hyundai) of Midleton came on board before Abu Dhabi with sponsorship to contribute towards his travel, it was greatly appreciated.

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