The Kickboxing Mania Series is promoted by former four times four
weight World Kick & Thai-Boxing champion Belfast's Billy Murray.
The concept is a simple one: The promotions are aimed at bringing
the best exponents of all three disciplines of kickboxing together
to compete for European, Intercontinental and World titles. In doing
so we help spread the sport of kickboxing globally, also creating
opportunities for some up-and-coming competitors to compete on international
events at home and abroad. We also believe our events have a direct
benefit at home through tourism and creating publicity for northern
Ireland which helps the country in a positive way.
MANIA - THE TENTH YEAR
KICKmas BOX III helped celebrate the 10th year of the Mania series.
This was the biggest fight night at the Ulster Hall since Barry
McGuigan had the gloves on and when Billy Murray took his first
world title in 1988 against the brilliant American, Richard Hill.
Yes, it was KICKmas time in Belfast now the epicentre of European
Belfast’s Gary Hamilton clashed with France’s Mohammad
Samir for the WKN light-welterweight kickboxing title at the famous
fight venue, where boxing legend Marvelous Marvin
Hagler was at ringside!
Supported by the Northern
Ireland Events Company and sponsored by Hilton, Belfast, KICKmas
BOX III staged on December 19 was the biggest and boldest kickboxing
show ever staged in Northern Ireland.
the event was screened live by UTV for Eurosport – the whole
world tuned in to see if the Ulster chef Hamilton could finally
put an end to Samir’s world dominance.
Promoter and former world champion Billy Murray says: “This
is my 30th years as a fighter and promoter of shows, it doesn’t
get any bigger than this.
“Fans from Thailand, France, Switzerland, the US and Canada
travelled to witness this almighty clash of two great fighters.
Samir was to
remain King-of-the-ring in one of the best fight nights ever
staged in the world. ‘Not even Santa could argue with that!
The inaugural KicKboxing Mania 1996
Tthe Dundonald International Ice Bowl
staged the inaugural showdown of some of the world’s best
kickboxing talent. Back then the sport was just beginning to grow,
with hundreds of new kickboxers signing up to ProKick Gyms across
The main bouts that night set a standard for the sport. Veteran
English flare fighter Trevor Ambrose left many in the crowd agog
taking home a world title after an outstanding array of head-kicks
usually reserved for the silver screen. Jean Claude Layer retained
his title, beating a bruising opponent called Branco Pavlovic, but
not without picking up a few cracked ribs for his trouble.
Although the original star attraction, Jean-Claude
van Damme dropped-out with less than two weeks before his
arrival, a class American team made the trip and the show aired
on state-wide cable television ESPN. The occasion was marked by
Belfast’s Mark Bailey taking a European title from his Swiss
challenger. There were three one hour programmes that aired on Sky
Sports 1. And some eight years later on Eurosport along with other
networks across the world airing the fight-night from Belfast.
KickBoxing Mania II returned in 1998
Mania II opted for the setting of the Castle Leisure Centre,
Bangor, County Down, and pitted ten nations against each other in
various guises and weight divisions.
The Castle Leisure Centre in Bangor, Co Down saw one world and three
European titles contested. It also has historical significance for
fight fans in Northern Ireland. A callow youth named Gary Hamilton
was on that card and picked up his first ever title, an amateur
Ulster belt. On the same bill saw legend in the making – Mohamed
French man-mountain Stephane Reveillon was among one of the big-name
stars present that day as Scotland’s Duncan Airlie James won
the Cruiserweight world title.
- KickBoxing Mania III, which took
place at a sold out Waterfront Hall. Northern Ireland's most famous
kick-boxer, Billy Murray, rolled back the years to win his fourth
ever World title.
- Kick mania IV witnessed
the first Heavyweight Thai title contested for on Irish soil, the
venue was the world famous Ulster Hall in the centre of Belfast.
That's were many true boxing & kickboxing world champions competed.
Mania V The worlds best Thai team ascends on Belfast. This Kick
Mania marked a watershed for kickboxing in Northern Ireland. It
was the first time an event was partly funded by a Government body
(The NI Events Company), as well as being backed by Belfast City
Council. We at ProKick believe this was the biggest step for the
sport in over twenty years. - Lets get ready to rumble.. 'KickBoxing
Mania VI - LIVE on Eurosport' We have lined-up one of the best fight
cards so Mania VI will surpass any of the previous. Have a look
at the fight card.
As Northern Ireland and indeed the world sat down to witness the
Mania VI on June 7th 2003, there will be many onlookers with
fond memories of the five that have past before…
The small steps forward taken previously turned into giant leaps
with the next instalment of the Mania series.
It was the first live kickboxing event ever broadcast on TV from
Belfast and the first live kickboxing event on Eurosport. Again
the events Company and Belfast City Council were important partners,
and what a show was lined up to mark the occasion.
Gary Hamilton made the first defence of his featherweight World
title, Downpatrick’s Gary Noade became a two time two style
World Amateur Champion, two big names from the Republic –
Paul Cummins and Sean Collier – both appeared, as did Irish
Champions Nick Baird, Brian Boyd and James Gillen. There were also
fighters from Portugal, Spain, Norway, France , Italy, Uganda and
Kickboxing had come of age. Belfast was the hub of the sport in
Europe and Billy Murray Promotions were the cornerstone of the movement.
It was a night of high drama and edge-of-the-seat action as the
Kickboxing world descended on Belfast for another Mania of Kickboxing.
Millions of fight-fans watching the live Eurosport broadcast around
the continent were kicking themselves they couldn't be at the Odyssey
Arena as fight after fight on the packed card delivered thrills,
shocks and genre-defining action. Belfast's own Gary Hamilton overcame
mountainous odds following a leg-break in a freak accident six weeks
earlier to overcome his man and win and Pocket Dragon Lydia Braniff
moved a step closer to a shot at a world title following a successful
European title defence. "It was the biggest and best kickboxing
night I have ever been involved with to date - and I've been in
this sport for 30 years," said kickboxing guru Billy Murray.
"The scale of the thing took your breath away. We had some
of the best fighters in the world here and some unbelievable action.
Kickboxing is the sport of the future, that is no longer in question."
It is fitting to leave the last few words to the
promoter of the Mania series:
Kickboxing in Belfast is a world away from where it was when I
started. During nights at events over pubs and bookies, when a couple
of dozen people were packed into a smoky room, I never dreamt we
would be holding shows in an arena as grand and world-renowned as
The Odyssey, Waterfront Hall and the Ulster Hall.
It’s down to everyone connected with the sport that keeps
us moving along. It’s down to the promoters, the trainers,
the fighters, the press and most of all you the supporters, you
have all helped the Mania series grow, if you keep coming to these
great events, we can grow even bigger and stronger.
I thank you all.
The story continues……
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