WHAT do you get one of the world’s top kickboxers for Christmas?
Well, you get him something that he doesn’t have, and for Bantry’s Tony Stephenson it was a Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star monthly award to acknowledge his senior WAKO World Kickboxing Championship gold success in October.
The West Cork Kickboxing Club man (28) was joined by family and friends as he was presented with the October monthly award at the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery.
In October, Stephenson stormed to gold at the Worlds in Sarajevo to prove that he is the best in the world.
It’s the second time that he has reached this summit, the first in 2009, but this latest success means more to him, it’s his biggest triumph in the sport.
‘I was 18 when I won in 2009 but this means more – and it was a lot harder,’ Stephenson said.
‘I had more fights, I had to lose more weight, the standard has improved, everything just felt harder, but it feels better this time to win, I know I have achieved something special.
‘Everything has been justified, all the hard work, all the runs up Lough Hyne, all the early mornings, all the dieting, all the sparring, all the up and down to Dublin.
‘Despite me being older than a lot of fighters who are in their early 20s, I wanted to prove that I am still as good and as strong as ever.
‘I have won World and European medals before but this is the first time in a long time that I have won gold.’
Stephenson is one of 12 monthly award winners to date that have a chance of winning the overall 2019 West Cork Sports Star of the Year Award that will be announced at the gala awards on Saturday, January 18th, 2020.