DROGHEDA’S Full Power MMA Club hopes to have two of its members competing for world honours this year after winning major titles here in Ireland.
The Cage Legacy Championships were staged just before Christmas in Ashbourne’s Pillo Hotel where Full Power’s Ben Harding became the youngest ever Junior MMA champion in the bantamweight division at just 14 years of age.
And just for good measure, the Senior bantamweight title went to the Dunleer native’s 19-year-old clubmate Elvinas Lukosevicius.
Full Power head coach Declan Kenna, who set up the club in 2014 and now operates out of a gym at the Circle K garage in Mell, is excited about the two teenagers’ prospects but is also keen that they keep their feet on the ground.
“If they stick to the plan and stay focused they could get something really big in the future,” said Declan.
“Elvinas was offered a contract off Bellator, but we don’t want him rushing into anything because you end up being stuck in a six-fight contract and unable to get out of it.
“I could turn him pro tomorrow, but the more experience he has the better, the World Championships are on in Abu Dhabi in the summer and I would like him to go to that.
“He’s from Drogheda and will be doing trials with the Irish team in March or April, but if he qualifies he’ll be competing for Lithuania.”
The Full Power club isn’t all about producing champions, though, as many of its members have other reasons for joining up.
Declan explained: “Some of them are being bullied in the street and they just want an outlet to get away from that, and the training builds confidence.
“Some are doing it for fitness and we have a ladies-only class on a Friday evening with (Irish BJJ champion) Leah Bennett who is the most experience girl in the gym and has had 40 fights at 17 years of age. She and Ben represented Ireland at the IMMAF Youth World Games in Bulgaria last year.
“Ben’s been training with us since he was six and Elvinas since he was 11 and we’re a community club. They all know each other and it’s fun. The kids absolutely love it and it’s something for them to look forward to.
“But there’s rules and regulations, there’s no head shots allowed until they’re over 18 and certain other rules that are illegal.
“For the four to seven-year-olds we play games like first off the ground, jumping jacks and races, and when they get into the seven to 12 age group they learn punches and kicks.
“The fitness training gets harder when they get into the teenage group and then there’s an adult group and advanced adults.”
Anyone who thinks they might be interested in joining Full Power MMA Club is asked to contact Declan Kenna at 089-2608816.