Sheppard is the new world champion

A stunning kick from Whitney Sheppard to the neck of German champions Evelyn Gallegos.
						Photo: Peter Shappard.

A stunning kick from Whitney Sheppard to the neck of German champions Evelyn Gallegos. Photo: Peter Shappard.

Galway has a new world champion. Thirty-one-year-old Whitney Sheppard claimed the International Kickboxing Federation's Atomweight K-1 world title when she overcame German champion Evelyn Gallegos on Saturday night.

And for the mother of two daughters, it was the "icing on the cake" after training for 17 years at Pete Foley's Gym.

Definitely a "good weekend" for Sheppard whose entrance ringside almost raised the roof of the Clayton Hotel, walking behind Irish flag carrier, daughter Sofia, who had fought earlier in the night and won a points victory over Limerick's Mikayla Bullman. And with her brother Paul in the corner, husband Peter taking the photos, and mum in the audience, it was a real family affair.

As expected both fighters went straight at each other from the bell, and it proved a classic encounter, with Gallegos utilising here strength as a boxer, and Sheppard her renowned kick.

"She's really good," Sheppard said of Gallegos. "I did get a bloody nose in the second round, but luckily it wasn't broken and did not affect my breathing.

"The first couple of rounds were close, but I felt I was getting stronger in the last three. I kept asking how I was doing at the end of each round, so by the end I was fairly sure I had done enough to win."

Judges awarded Sheppard the fight 48-47, winning three of the five rounds.

The feeling was one of elation for Sheppard, who began her career as a 14-years-old Jes student, but there have been "no mad celebrations" since.

After taking Monday off, she has been back in the gym with her eye on the next challenge - a pro fight at the end of the month against the French champion at a show in Milton Keynes. But for the next six months the world title is hers, and the all white fur world trophy makes a "perfect decoration" on her living room wall.

Sheppard's clubmates Alex Fitzpatrick from Tuam and Corey O'Malley from Ballybrit were also victorious in their Irish title fights defeating Dublin and Athlone fighters respectively. Kinvara man Cian McCormack, who also fights out of Foley’s Gym, was victorious in his international Pro Rules K-1 bout against dangerous French Thai Boxer Marvin Bonnemains in an electrifying three-rounder.


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