Ince celebrates fairy tale triumph

ONE-and-a-half decades without a fight, no fights at all in this country and, all of a sudden, British champion. Sporting fairy tales simply do not come much better than that of Baser Ince!

The 31-year-old came from nowhere, at least in the eyes of the rest of Britain, to become the 2004 TAGB British Taekwondo Sparring champion in the heavyweight division.

If that's not impressive enough, add into the mix the fact that the Hastings Taekwondo Club member travelled up to the venue in Coventry at 4am on Sunday, just an hour after finishing his shift as a doorman at Waves Night Club.

What's more, Baser had to negotiate more than eight two minute long bouts in a fast and furious two-and-a-half hour period of knockout competition en route to the title.

"Some of my friends were quite surprised," said Baser, who has recently completed a post graduate level diploma in management studies at Hastings College to sit alongside a degree in special engineering from his native Turkey and a first diploma in software application.

"Even the Hastings club didn't expect me to do that well. I was really happy when I got this because I was representing part of England as well. It was very tiring and most of the fights were tough. A lot of my opponents were as big as me and some of them were stronger but I quite enjoyed it."

So much so that he plans to intensify his training, which for the last six months since joining the club has comprised two hours per week, in a bid to represent Great Britain at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

"I really want to go higher up in Taekwondo and I'm trying to go for the Olympics. I took it up as a hobby but after this (result) it's going to be a lot more serious. I'm still so rusty because it's 14 or 15 years since I last fought. And I had to adjust myself (to the semi-contact format and the complex rules that go with it having fought on a full-contact basis in his homeland)."

Baser's story is a fascinating one, even before this remarkable success. He took up the sport at the age of 11, training three times a week and competing only on a local level. In his late teens he was forced to drop Taekwondo to focus on his university studies.

After a stint of national service in the Turkish air force, he began a new life in England eight years ago where he has continued his studies and is now the general manager of a London based doorman training team. Anyone wishing to sponsor Baser in his bid to become Hastings' latest Olympian should contact him on 07734 535107.