Few people earn a crack at a world title in any sport, but in Galway on Saturday, Castlepark’s Gary Manogue will take to the ring in his first bid to become the world super welterweight kickboxing champion.
The 32 years old will put his No 1 ranking on the line when he takes on Italian champion and world No 3 Alessandro Disnan from Rome in a seven-out fight for the title in Leisureland, Salthill.
It has been something of a spectacular six years since Manogue took up the sport, having been “ roped in” by Blackdragon Kickboxing Gym’s Pete Foley. Irish, Five Nations, and European titles and defences have followed to enable him to get to this pinnacle, but the unassuming fighter says he is “just glad to be in this position”.
“I am not the sort to go shouting if I am a world champion - for me it’s a personal achievement and not everyone can do it,” he says.
This is Manogue’s first seven-round fight and he has prepared with a fitness regime that involves an eight-kilometre run every morning, work-out in the gym in the evening, and in between working for City Bin. “ Running after bins keeps me pretty fit too,” he says, while also preparing for this first seven-rounds by sparring with my fellow boxers, Cahill Maning, Charlie Ward, and Bryan Merrigan, who is on Saturday’s undercard fighting for a European title.
Manogue has forged a reputation as a strong boxer - with 12 of his 26 fights won by knock-out. His most recent and biggest fight to date was the World Classic final in Florida in July where he was on the receiving end of a knock-out, which, he says, “taught me to keep my hands up”.
Now Manogue’s hope is that he can land a knock-out blow in front of his home audience against a fellow kickboxer about whom he knows little.
“I have watched him on a couple of You Tube clips, but I will not know until the first round and see what he has. It’s a bit nerve wracking, not a nice feeling,” he says.
However Manogue believes “all of Castlepark” will be behind him at Leisureland, including his girlfiend Nicole, son James, who is the flag bearer, his coach Pete Foley “who, but for hime, I wouldn’t be where I am today”, and his sponsors, The Eastside Inn, John Butler Sports Injury Therapy, “which has kept me injury free”, and Sound to Light. And most importantly for Manogue is the memory of his father, who until his death in January, had been an ever-present figure in his life.
“ I miss him a lot. He attended all my fights, and he always travelled with me for the spin.”
Saturday’s fight night also boasts a European fight with Oughterard’s Bryan "Mayhem" Merrigan, who is the current IKF All Ireland K-1 rules champion.
He will take on the champion of Norway, Marius Sjursaeter, for the IKF European K-1 super welterweight title.
The Black Dragon Gym also has three more fighters chasing All Ireland title titles - James "Pretty Boy" Ward, who will fight Ciilin in Boyce from Donegal for the International Rules Irish Featherweight crown; Yvonne "No Mercy" McNevin, who takes on Deborah O’Sullivan from Dublin for the Irish Bantamweight kickboxing title; and Paul "Hurricane" Huish, who will square off with Thurles’ fighter Paul Pike for the Irish Welterweight K-1 rules title. Leona "The Lioness" Trautt will make a mandatory first defence of her Irish Featherweight title to Waterford’s Catherine Butler.
Tickets are on sale now from any of the fighters on the card or the Black Dragon Gym 087 8119227.