Belfast Kickboxer Darren McMullan in Australia
Belfast kickboxer Darren McMullan (r) with Fightmag editor Parviz Iskenderov (l) at 'Domination 17' muaythai fight night: Toby Smith v Dieselek / Perth, WA, Australia / Saturday April 2, 2016 / Pic: Emanuel Rudnicki/Noisy Pixels

Northern Ireland’s prominent kickboxer Darren McMullan is currently in Australia where he discovers a new world.

Belfast-born Darren McMullan, 29, has trained kickboxing for eight years. He represents a famous ProKick gym.

Kick off

“I have always had an interest in skilled fighting. I used to watch boxing fights on TV,” McMullan says.

“It started my interest until my eyes locked onto the K-1 Grand Prix.”

“This was much more a style for me. I liked the energy, watching the mixed styles, the ruthless skill and power some of the fighters had.”

“After a year of a ‘get strong and fit frenzy’ I plucked up the courage to go down. I signed up for my first class.”

“I was nervous, as always in a new place with new people. But even the more in a kickboxing club.”

Home of champions

Indeed, ProKick Belfast is a leading gym in the country. Over the years it has produced dozens of true title holders.

“Starting off in Prokick as a novice was like anything. I was at the bottom, eager to learn. What better a kickboxing gym in Northern Ireland to do it, ProKick,” McMullan reflects on the day one.

“Training through the years with champion fighters like James Gillen, Mark Bird, Stuart Jess and Gary Hamilton to name a few, always to look on, to learn from their experience to help myself.”

“I have made some really good friendships with fighters coming up through the fight scene with myself. All mates inside and outside the gym reaching that world status together.

“Ursula Agnue, Samantha Robb, Alex Ciocoi, Cathy McAleer and my mate Johnny Swift Smith.”

Number one man

ProKick squad is guided by Billy Murray. He is a former 4-time world champion in four difference weight divisions. Murray is the man credited with helping popularizing kickboxing in Ireland.

“I honestly didn’t know much about Mr Murray before I joined ProKick,”

“Only that throughout Belfast and the few people I knew involved in the sport this [ProKick] was the best place for me to go.”

“On entering the ‘old tin hut’ and seeing the countless belts, trophies, scores of his [Murray] own promoted shows on DVDs, posters of all ages in all locations with his name headlining them or another ProKick champion… I knew I was in a good place.”

“I am honored to become not only one of his students but a close friend,”

“He has helped me through many years of fights, challenges inside and outside the gym. I have learned from clips I’v seen, stories I’ve heard, and from Mr Murray himself.”

“Incredible journey Billy’s kickboxing career took him on, which I feel to every ProKick fighter is the inspiration we have, along with his style of training.

“All this makes the heart ProKickers fight with.”

Made in WKN

Middleweight kickboxer Darren McMullan aka ‘Iceman’ competes under K-1 and Full Contact rules. He holds the record of 18 wins, 7 losses, 3 draws and 1 no contest. Fighting in the Pro-Am class he has held the WKN titles of World, Intercontinental, European and British calibers.

“One benefit of fighting from such a credible gym is the range of international fighters I have fought and countries I have fought in,” says international kickboxer Darren McMullan.

“I have fought in Ireland north and south, Scotland, England, Switzerland, France, Germany, Corsica,”

“I competed with fighters from all these countries plus Russian, Belgian, Polish & Greek to add to the list,”

“An amazing range of different fighting cultures and styles to test myself out against.”

Big Move

Northern Ireland’s Darren McMullan has now been living in Australia for a few months. There is a tragic story behind the journey, as well as a motivational aspect that the show must go on.

“Kind of as a late teenager growing up on such a small island like Northern Ireland has its limits of excitement,”

“Internet and television flaunting these beautiful lifestyles, cultures and landscapes most people only dream of,”

“I had set a mark deep in my head I wanted to go to the other side of the world.”

“Unsure of how my life, career and kickboxing career would even go at this point.”

“My brother moved out here [Perth, WA] 7 years ago as the seed in my head had only been planted.”

“Seeing his happiness and life out here made me eager to join him.”

“He lost his life in a tragic accident at work five and a half years ago, which hit me and my family like a steam train knocking us to the canvas,”

“This was the hardest thing I ever had to deal with and one thing I had as an escape from the sorrow was ProKick.”

“This is where I build my friendship with Mr Murray. I started fighting, not as an anger releasing agent, but I was able to focus on something, something that has never left me, to control my mind shut out the outside world and take control of my life.”

“I learnt that it’s a mind game. Win the fight in your head first, because it’s the hardest battle.”

“Being fit, skillful and strong only aid a smart thinking fighter.”

“This made me who I am today. After five and a half years I felt it was time to expand my horizons, see and experience other parts of the world and live and do what my brother did.”

Down Under

Darren McMullan is currently staying in Perth, Western Australia. This is where he joined an elite camp Kao Sok Mya Thai Gym.

“Moving to Western Australia is amazing. It’s landscapes and beaches are second to none,”

“I am living quite far outside the city and it led to one problem not having a local gym to train.”

“I’ve found Kao Sok Muay Thai owned by Darren Curovic. An excellent gym, very local to me,”

“Darren himself and three Thai trainers, along with many current champion fighters also.”

“Kao Sok is an awesome gym with many similarities to Mr Murray’s ProKick. The intense training schedules, the respect and loyalty required to train here.”

“I am planning to stay here. I feel more at home with myself here than I did in my everyday working life in Belfast.”

“Is it the weather? Is it Australia? Is it my brother? Who knows but it’s working.”

Big difference

Indeed, Kickboxing and Muay Thai are two different sports. Belfast kickboxer Darren McMullan will possible start throwing Thai-elbows.

“As much as I would like to train kickboxing here in Western Australia, it seems almost non-existent.”

“Muay Thai gyms everywhere here.”

“It wouldn’t be my preferred choice at first, but Muay Thai seems the only way here.”

“I think that there should be a range of rules though,”

“I always preferred watching a show where you saw a few different styles, from full contact to low leg to K-1,”

“Seeing the range of different styles of fighters out there, but that’s just personal preference. But that’s just personal preference.”

“Training Muay Thai has been very positive on me.”

“No matter how much I thought I could switch styles it hasn’t been as easy.”

“Having the kickboxing knowledge, strength and flexibility definitely helped.”

“Training is going well, I feel fighting fit and strong just from general training in the fighters class.”

“It’s very enjoyable to challenge myself more, and learn new techniques to add to everything I have learnt over the years.”

“It is very possible I will fight in Australia, but I haven’t spoken with with either of trainers yet.”

“At the moment I’m just enjoying staying fighting fit and active.”

“After all I have only ever done it as a fun challenging hobby so it’s all good.”

“I have been to a couple of shows here since arriving in February,”

“All seem well organized and sponsored, and pull hundreds of people.”

“Northern Ireland is a small place with nowhere near as much martial art public interest,”

“However the scale of advertising we do in Belfast is incomparable.”

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Parviz Iskenderov
Parviz Iskenderov is a muaythai fighter from Perth, Australia. He is a former national champion of Belarus, and also a finalist of IFMA European Cup. He is an editor and journalist at FIGHTMAG. He covers national and world news. Iskenderov is also the WKN (World Kickboxing Network) international coordinator for Australia.

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