Monday, December 24, 2012

RTE Sportsperson goes to Katie Taylor

RTE Sports Personality of the Year
Katie Taylor was named RTE Sports Person of the Year last night. More than well-deserved.

Taylor has not only put herself on the map but has single-handedly changed Irish people’s attitudes to boxing. The manager at one of the equipment shops I go to in Dublin said he’s never seen anything like it,  never seen the gloves fly out the door like this even back when Barry McGuigan was winning. Video and interviews from last night are here on the RTE site.

So a happy ending to a year that wasn’t very happy for a lot of people. And on that note am taking a break from blogging for the holidays.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas! See you in the 2013.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

From New York to Chiang Mai thanks to Muay Thai

One of the first things Sylvie Von Duuglas-Ittu learned when she moved to Thailand was taking a long nap after training is probably not a good idea. Too much sleeping means no eating means weight loss. And at 47 kg, that’s not so smart, the American fighter says.

MuayThai 2.0

If you follow women’s Muay Thai online, you might have come across one of Von Duuglas-Ittu’s YouTube videos or maybe you follow her on Facebook. Part of a new generation of fighters, Von Duuglas-Ittu says her online work is as much part of her career as what she does in the ring.

‘What I’m doing now is such an opportunity, I wanted to share it with as many people as possible and give to other women in the world,’ she says, speaking from her apartment in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.

Her YouYube channel has been viewed more than one million times and her Facebook page reached 1,000 likes this week. So while many mainstream sports publications are still working out that women fight, the internet is showing the way.

Von Duuglas-Ittu started her adventure in Thailand through her website 8 Limbs Us, gathering sponsorship and attention with the eye-catching design. But what really caught my attention is that she and her husband have moved to Thailand for ‘at least’ a year.

A Year to Fight

Many fighters save up to spend four or maybe six weeks training but the commitment involved in throwing away jobs and homes smacks of something else. Dedication and maybe a little madness.

She says they went on a shorter trip first from their New York base, but just knew they had to go back again. Seven months into the adventure, she has no regrets.

“I lived about 60 miles outside of the city, so I would commute about an hour to get to training. I was training maybe four hours a week instead of seven hours a day,” she says.

Her first trainer at home was Master K, a former Thai fighter who lives in New York. But even with his training, she had a lot to learn when she arrived in Thailand.

“He trains very detailed things that help you learn, no-body can tell you how to do the kick with your hip but he explains how you use your hip for power.

“But he wasn’t making me do heavy repetitions on the bag, he doesn’t hold pads so it was actually incredibly different from Thai training here,’ she says.

Von Duuglas-Ittu’s husband works online and at the moment she focuses just on training, a luxury she says.

“The training out here feels good, it’s not ‘I’m going to go to training now’; it’s a way of life. It’s what you do.”
A Stitch in Time

But just in case you’re thinking Von Duuglas-Ittu is just a key-board warrior, her most recent fight earned her seven stitches. She wrote on her blog: “As my adrenaline wore off the pain of the stitches became more pronounced, but you just sit through it. 

“There’s no help in making noise or wincing about it – “take the fight out of your face,” as it goes.”

And yes, she’s uploaded a video of the stitches going in ringside, watch it here on her page

One of the most exciting things about women’s fighting in Thailand now is how many women are on the circuit. Von Duuglas-Ittu has had four fights already this month - ten years ago that would have taken months to build up. Her fight record is now 15-5-2.

“A lot of the girls I fight now are doing MuayThai as part of their school-work, it’s on their sports or PE work. They have soccer and MuayThai,” she says.

And when I asked if the couple are really going home at the end of the year, she just laughed. Make of that what you will. 

I'll be posting more from this interview next week, but in the meantime pop over to 8 Limbs Us for some great posts from Von Duuuglas-Ittu herself. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Sylvie von Duuglus Ittu

Sylvie von Duuglas -Ittu is an American fighter training MuayThai in Thailand - come back tomorrow for her interview.

Other Wordless Wednesday bloggers hanging out here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

BBC brings us the raw emotion behind sport

Jessica Ennis - Olympic heptathlete champion and runner-up BBC SPOTY
Cyclist Bradley Wiggins won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year last night with Olympic heptathlete Jessica Ennis in second place in an emotional celebration of all that's good in sport.

There were tears, laughter and so many, many memories. And as Martina Navratilova said the great success of women athletes in 2012 gives other women 'the possibility to dream'. From the joy of paralympic swimmer Ellis Simmonds to the sheer grit of rower Katherine Grainger, we saw how women could be portrayed in a different world. 

But for me the most inspiring story took place far from the medal ceremonies. Martine Wright lost both her legs in the London bombings in July 2007 but competed in the Paralympics on the sitting volleyball team. She said how lucky she was to have this opportunity, and even that she was on the train to create that chance. Almost unbearably moving. The Beeb recognised her bravery with the Helen Rollason award. 

If you didn't get a chance to watch it all  - and there was three hours of mayhem  - the BBC report is here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Deirdre Gogarty talks boxing, world titles and books

Meeting world champion boxer Deirdre Gogarty when she visited Ireland in October was a real pleasure. They say never meet your heroes but sometimes it's turns out just fine.

I posted the newspaper article I wrote on her here, and finally getting around to uploading the radio interview today. Enjoy!
Deirdre Gogarty’s book ‘My Call to the Ring’ is available online from

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Memories of the Paralympics London2012

The glory and excitement of the Paralympics seems far away now but the Irish stars recaptured some of the magic at the first Irish Paralympic Awards in Dublin this week.

Gold medallist Bethany Firth won gold in the S14 100m backstroke at just 16 years of age and took home the Outstanding Female Performance. 

Anne Ebbs, former secretary general of the Paralympic Council of Ireland was given the highest recognition the movement can offer when she received The Paralympic Order. 

So many memories from a fantastic fortnight of sport and emotion. It's hard to pick favourites really. You could also make a case for cyclist Catherine Walsh or young equestrian Helen KearneySwimmer Ellen Keane is another athlete we will definitely see again, hopefully in Rio 2016. 

In all the Irish team - men and women - came home with eight gold, three silver and five bronze medals.