Day one of the IMMAF European Championships has drawn to a close. Team England had six athletes competing today, racking up two wins and four losses.
Eighteen athletes – the highest number ever for an English team – have travelled to Lignano Sabbiadoro (near Venice), Italy, to compete against the best amateur athletes in Europe.
Leading the team is Head Coach, Paul Kelly, who reflected on the team’s performance:
“We had 6 of our guys out. We had two wins and four losses today, but let’s remember we’re against the best in Europe so the level’s very high. All of our guys did themselves proud. Did the best for England, [and] did the best for the team.”
Tommy Horseman and George Young stepped into the cage first. Both young men train at Gracie Barra Derby, both were competing in the Junior Lightweight division, and both lost to strong Ukrainian athletes via submission.
Jack “The Ripper” Humphries was up next, and took the first win of the day against a Greek opponent via rear-naked choke. EMMAA Vice President Paul Reed commented:
“Jack Humphries was outstanding as we know he can be. He put on a great performance – almost faultless – so super happy with him.”
Jack’s Dad, Dean Humphries, shared his thoughts on what it’s like to watch your son compete:
“From a parent’s point of view, it was a bit nerve-racking, but you’ve got to distil confidence in my son and the fighter, and I think that showed in the cage… Up and on to the next one.”
Kean Kelly then faced off against Danish fighter Abdulah Amer and had the most exciting contest of the day. Kean landed heavy leg-kicks throughout the fight, but Amer’s high-level striking won him the unanimous decision. Kean reflected,
“It was a tough scrap. He was a tough guy. I love this sport with all my heart. I give everything to this, I live it every day, day in, day out. I’ll come back stronger from this.
Losses don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things, it’s all a learning curve. I will be back, I’ll get my wins… I will be back, and I’ll be back with a f***ing vengeance.”
Jordan Little then made the walk. Jordan is experienced in IMMAF competition, taking part in the World Championships earlier in the year. Against a determined Ukrainian, Jordan kept his composure and managed to edge a split decision. Jordan shared some insight on his performance:
“I think my opponent today was probably one of the hardest fights I was going to have in the week. Ukraine came with a very strong team and he brought it to me. I’ve learned that I need to believe in myself really, because I got in my head a little bit thinking that he would be the hardest fight, and I shot that down. I said ‘I’m in charge’ – and it worked… I believe that I belong here and I think that I showed that today.”
And last to step into the cage was Musa “Big Moose” Christian. Musa took on a Moldovan in the Middleweight division, and after dominating the contest, was caught in a triangle choke and forced to tap. Paul Reed said, “He was dominating the fight and just made one error which cost him.”
It was an exciting first day at the IMMAF European Championships. Team England faced some tough opposition, with two athletes progressing to the next round.
Asked what was learned today, Coach Kelly said:
“I think the big learning curve is we are among the best competitors in Europe and that’s what we have to build on for the future. We’ve looked at what’s happened today, we’ve looked at the bouts of the people who have gone through tomorrow, and we’re expecting tough competition again. We’ll go away and do what this sport demands – we’ll reset and come back again tomorrow ready to go.”