MOTHERWELL kickboxer Gary McLeary became Golden Belt world champion on Saturday, dethroning Somerset’s Jon Edge.
The Impact Kickboxing super heavyweight dominated the 12-round fight to join the sport’s elite in front of a sell out audience at Cleland Club and up to a million viewers on the internet.
Trainer Jan Cree, himself a world champion, was proud of his man’s achievement.
He said: “The fight went the distance, but I reckon Gary failed to take only two of the rounds as he was in complete control.
“It was an epic fight that had the whole place rocking. The fighters were laying into each other, but in the end all the hard work paid off for us.
“I am so proud to have coached a fighter to world title level. It will now open doors for Gary and he has already been invited to compete in the Super Fight series which has a purse of £30,000.”
Saturday also saw Impact’s Jamie McGinnis, from New Stevenston, win the vacant Golden Belt European amateur lightweight title with a second round stoppage of Newcastle’s David Pickard.
Pickard came into the fight on the back of three wins, but agreed to compete only on Friday after McGinnis’s planned opponent, Josh Perry, was rushed to hospital with a virus.
Perry was himself a replacement for Dave Gillan who pulled out of the fight due to concerns over his fitness, but did turn up to watch.
Cree believes he saw a more mature fighter this time.
He said: “That was Jamie’s 10th fight and I think were are starting to see something special in him.
“We told him to hang back in the first round and see how it went, and that’s what he did instead of his usual steaming in.
“However, in the second he was like a shark who smelled blood and after putting Pickard down with a body kick he went for it again and their corner threw in the towel.
“To have world and European champions crowned on he same night - well it doesn’t get much better than that!”
McLeary and McGinnis are the tip of the iceberg for Holytown-based Impact with many other good fighters coming through including Ryan McCluskey, who lifted the K1 welterweight title, and James Cotter who made a winning debut.
Cree added: “Everyone in kickboxing knows who Impact are now!”