Interview, Manchester, Sport

MMU Taekwondo raise over £2000 for charity with Fight Night Live 2

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By Christie Leigh Marsh & Charlotte Hawksworth 

Over 380 people attended MMU Taekwondo’s Fight Night Live 2 on 2nd December to watch Manchester Met’s best fighters to battle it out in the ring to be the night’s champions. Held at the Student Union, the event saw a fantastic £2,087 raised for charity, setting a new record for the club.

The matches were officiated by special guest referee and former European Champion Ross Sharman, who is a fourth degree black belt. Ross is the youngest international Taekwondo instructor in Europe and trains at Manchester Met. Humanity Hallows caught up with Ross on the night to ask him a few questions.

Can you tell us a bit about being the instructor of Taekwondo at MMU?

I have been teaching the MMU Taekwondo club for six years now, which I started back in January 2011. We started with four members and now we have 68. I have been doing Taekwondo myself for 17 years. Our club is quite diverse, we have all styles of Taekwondo under one roof so we cater for all abilities and all club members and different styles are all welcome at our club. We are the current British University Taekwondo League champions and the first ever university club to send people to the European championships, where we won two European gold medals.

Can you start the class as a beginner?

Yes, absolutely. We have welcomed beginners, some who started literally last week, but we also have people who have been doing it for 10 to 15 years. Everyone is welcome as we train with everybody together under the same roof and  they all do it at their own ability. We are completely open to beginners and we encourage people to start, as it is never too late, no matter what age you are.

How did the Fight Night event come together?

Last year we had an idea that we wanted to host a Fight Night to introduce people to Taekwondo and show them what it’s all about. Then we thought about how we could incorporate it to raise some money for charity and make it beneficial to everybody. After working on this idea for three months, we decided that we wanted to make it a spectacle by getting a boxing ring and making it a more people-friendly event.

We wanted to raise awareness of Taekwondo because I think the Olympics can give the wrong impression of what it really is and we wanted to show people what it’s like. We hoped to introduce the sport to find people who wanted to try it out as it’s a great way to help people with confidence and self-defense awareness.

Would you say that it has improved your confidence since taking up the sport?

My mum got me into Taekwondo when I was nine and I’m now 27. I didn’t want to go and she forced me through the door. I was getting bullied at school and was a very quiet, quite unfit child, so it basically gave me huge confidence. It changed my life and I managed to stop getting bullied and stand up for myself. It helped me engage with people a lot more and really helped me to mature and be a better person through the discipline and self-control and the theory and philosophy behind it.

How did you decide on which charity would benefit from the night? 

The Wood Street Mission is a relevant one to Taekwondo as it’s a local Manchester charity. Last year, we took part in their toy shoe box appeal where we gathered a load of gifts because they treat and help homeless people and especially homeless children over the festive period. We thought because were doing it in December, which leads up to the festive period, it would be a great time to raise money, raise awareness and help them get some stuff for those who need it this time of the year.

How do you feel about the turn out at the event?

It’s been fantastic so far, a brilliant turnout. The best thing about it is it shows how many people are there to support people. We have a lot of MMU sports and societies clubs, which is great because there’s a great networking going on with all of them. Everyone is becoming friends and getting to know each other and we are reaching a lot of people that we usually wouldn’t reach. That’s the best thing, the whole club are all fighting each other but they’re all good friends, they get on before and afterwards and they all respect each other so it’s a good family-friendly event. The crowd are great as they’re all supporting the people and it’s a fantastic atmosphere.

Do you think this year’s event has topped last year’s?

Definitely. We’ve had more of an engaged audience. It’s been very vocal which is great. The fights have been a lot stronger and a lot more fun to watch and the engagement and the support from the students has been incredible. I’m sure we will raise more money than last year

Do you have any plans for next year and keeping the event going?

I’m here until 2018. I’m delaying my masters so I’ll still be here to do that and, hopefully, we will do a Fight Night 3, but also we’re going to be the first university club to send a university student to the world championships in Holland next year!

Three National Champions from MMU Cheer Elite, kicked off the show with their championship winning routine. They were followed by the MMU Pole Dancing Society, who worked the ring as the crowd awaited the match of undefeated European Champion Sam Capp who was up against MMU Union Education Officer and undefeated BUTL Competitor Luca Raimo. The results shocked the crowd as Luca won unanimously, leaving Sam covered in blood with a shattered reputation.

Following this round, the crowd anticipated a strong fight from MMU TKD Vice Chair Rosie Walford against MMU TKD Newcomer Basia Harbut. The match was intense with Basia taking multiple hits in each round, ending the match winded and on her knees.

Overall, the night was a huge success and the money raised will be given to local charity Wood Street Mission to help support the homeless this festive season.

For more information about Taekwondo at MMU, visit the Union website or the MMU Taekwondo Facebook page.

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