Billy Murray, the man credited with helping popularizing kickboxing in Ireland, celebrates 25 years since becoming professional world champion for the first time on September 12, 1989 in the Belfast.
The Belfast legend Murray, who has turned 56 few days ago, took the world welterweight title from American Richard Hill – the Mayweather Jnr of kickboxing back then and a man who was supposed to be unbeatable.
To mark the event, Murray, now a celebrated coach and promoter, is gathering six homegrown fight stars of the present and future, all of whom will challenge for a world title on the night, September 13, 2014.
Murray’s career has taken him from the simple gym in east Belfast where he still turns out champion after champion, to the seat of governments in Europe. In martial arts for over 40 years, he was an original who saw the way his sport could unite warring communities of Northern Ireland.
His gym has long been known a zero-tolerance zone for sectarianism. He visits schools, especially in tough areas, teaching a message of self-respect and self-control, with his motto, Truth, Discipline and Respect. He’s a one-off as he helped co-found – The Peace Fighters a sports initiative.
Murray’s achievements are many. He won an amateur world title in 1987 and went on to capture four professional world titles at four different weights.
He has also guided, promoted, and managed 10 world champions, 23 European or Intercontinental champions and numerous national champions. He takes teams across the globe, all without any official funding, all paid for through fundraisers by friends and families of the brave and eager young fighters.