Eastbourne kickboxers compete at Arnold Schwarzenegger convention in Birmingham

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Members of an Eastbourne kickboxing club travelled to the Birmingham NEC to compete at the Arnold Sports Festival UK.

Kicks Eastbourne competitors Morgan Johnson, Liam Ellis, Nick Reed, Roy Peche and coach Chris Bath travelled to the World Kickboxing Organisation kickboxing tournament.

The event was part of the annual sports convention organised by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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The Arnold Sports Festival is held every year in the USA and the UK, and some of the biggest names in bodybuilding and combat sport are in attendance.

From left: Liam Ellis, Nick Reed, Roy Peche, Morgan Johnson, Chris Bath | Submitted pictureFrom left: Liam Ellis, Nick Reed, Roy Peche, Morgan Johnson, Chris Bath | Submitted picture
From left: Liam Ellis, Nick Reed, Roy Peche, Morgan Johnson, Chris Bath | Submitted picture

Tom Aspinall (current UFC MMA heavyweight champion), Dorian Yates (6x Mr Olympia), Ronnie Coleman (8x Mr Olympia), Jay Cutler (4x Mr Olympia), Terry Hollands (former Britains Strongest Man and World Strongest Man competitor), Liam Harrison (former WBC Muay Thai World Champion) and Thor Bjornsson (former World’s Strongest Man and Game of Thrones actor) were just some of the athletes making an appearance.

Arnie himself was also there, and could be seen working out on the gym equipment, taking selfies with fans and answering questions about his life on stage.

The convention has a large range of fitness-related stalls, and events from different sports such as competitive weightlifting and Crossfit. Thousands of people attend.

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The WKO kickboxing tournament was introduced to the convention in 2024, and given the large crowds who were cheering on the fighters it seemed to be a popular addition.

The Eastbourne group at the convention | Submitted pictureThe Eastbourne group at the convention | Submitted picture
The Eastbourne group at the convention | Submitted picture

Morgan entered the ring for the first time on Saturday. At the age of just 16, Morgan demonstrated maturity and confidence despite it being such a large event.

Morgan showed determination against a tough and experienced opponent throughout his fight. However, after taking several shots in the final round his opponent edged him on points – a loss for Morgan, however the experience of taking part in this type of event was invaluable.

Roy Peche also had his first competition experience on Saturday. Roy worked tirelessly throughout the fight, using his skills in movement around the ring. After the first round it appeared that Roy was on track for a win. However, his opponent stepped it up in the final round and put the pressure on Roy, which handed him the decision.

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Nick Reed was up next. Nick is an experienced heavyweight competitor, and his bout lasted just 29 seconds before it was stopped due to his opponent's injury. When the first round began, Nick came out of the corner strong and surprised his opponent with several cleanly-landed kicks and punches.

This resulted in the ref giving his opponent a standing count after only several seconds. Once the fight resumed, Nick stalked his opponent and landed several powerful shots which floored him and ended the match.

Liam Ellis was in the final bout of the day. Liam is another skilled and experienced heavyweight from Kicks, and he demonstrated his technical ability throughout the fight.

Liam's opponent appeared determined to take the knockout win, and despite him throwing repeated heavy shots towards Liam, he was able to out-manoeuvre the attack whilst Liam landed his own counter shots.

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The fight was ended after Liam threw a well-time hook to the body, which resulted in his opponent dislocating his shoulder. Liam won by TKO.

All Kicks fighters showed skill and perseverance within their bouts, and they will now head back to the gym to work on preparations for their next competition in the summer.