DAYS on from his quarter-final loss at the European Games, Bantry kickboxer Tony Stephenson was still devastated.
This defeat stung – and the manner of it has left a bad taste in the mouth.
The West Cork man was a genuine medal contender heading into the Games and was in pole position in his fight against Hungarian fighter Lajos Imre Fes on Friday.
Win this fight, and Stephenson was guaranteed a medal and in the conversation for a place in the European final, but his dreams were left shattered after a controversial 3-0 loss.
‘I was winning the fight up until the very near end. It was close but I was in control,’ Stephenson explained.
‘I did not understand it during the fight but after watching the footage, I and many others hold the opinion that certain decisions in that fight were not correct.
‘My opponent chose to fall to the floor at least seven times, complaining that I kicked him low or wrestled him to the ground. He fell way too easily and chose not to attempt to stay standing. For this I was then penalised points, which then cost me the win.’
He added: ‘I am disappointed with the decision and the conduct of my opponent and his coaches. To win in this way, in my opinion, is not in accord with what it means to be a true martial artist.’
Frustrated with the actions of his Hungarian opponent, as well as the referee, Stephenson lodged an official complaint after the fight but heard nothing back.
‘I’m disappointed with the sport,’ Stephenson told The Southern Star.
‘My opponent threw himself to the ground at least seven times in the fight. Him and his coach realised they couldn't win properly so they started complaining and he started throwing himself on the ground.’
Stephenson had high hopes travelling to Krakow for the European Games having won a silver medal at the WAKO Europeans last November; this performance qualified him for the championships in Poland.
The West Cork Kickboxing Club star travelled in confidence, but has been left disappointed by how his dream was dashed. The Hungarian fighter went on to qualify for the final, but lost to German Al Amin Rmadan.