Two great Champions go back to their roots
Two European Champions returned to their former Sligo Mugendo kickboxing club for the annual end-of-year celebrations at St Joseph's Hall.
Mercedes Taaffe, now living in Australia, won her European title in 1994 at the World Association of Kickboxing Associations (WAKO) world championships, while Desmond Leonard, who is from the Leo Martial Arts Club, Collooney, is the current European Champion and has the world at his feet as next year's Senior World Championships are being held in Dublin.
Mercedes said she was delighted to return to Sligo and to the club where both she and Dessie started their martial arts journey.
Mercedes emigrated to Australia some years ago, but has continued her development of the fight game in boxing there.
The celebration event in St Joseph's Hall was an opportunity for the young kickboxers to meet the two champions and hear them speak at first hand of their own personal journey in martial arts. It was also a chance for some 'questions and answers'.
Sligo Mugendo Kickboxing Club held a number of major events throughout the year to coincide with Sligo being European Town of Sport.
There was further international success for the club this year when Maria Connolly won a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships in Italy in September and Michael Whelan won bronze in full-contact in Spain in November.
A number of other club members qualified for the national team such as Rebecca Ballentine, Roseena McNaire, Cathal Fitzpatrick and Aisling McDermott. Many more had success at national club events throughout the country.
The awards ceremony also recognised the input of parents, who contribute to the running of the Club.
Sligo Mugendo's Michael McDermott said: "Overall, the event wrapped up a great year for kickboxing in Sligo, where the future champions met two athletes who have reached the top of their sport. Kickboxing in Sligo certainly is in a good place."