A three time world kickboxing champion from Killea is to feature tonight on RTE's flagship Nationwide programme.
Well-known property developer Paddy Toland first took up kickboxing 35 years ago. His love for the sport led him to set up the Irish Full Contact Kickboxing Association, win three world championships and start training others in Derry and Carrigans.
His local gym, PT’s, has already spawned two world champions, Daniel ‘Pinta’ Quigley, Derry and Tommy McCafferty, Letterkenny.
Paddy says it’s been an incredibly rewarding journey.
“I first took up kickboxing about 35 years ago. I was doing karate before that, and heard about kickboxing, which was really taking off in America. Another guy, Billy Walsh from Belfast, also wanted to learn more about it, so the two of us travelled together all over the world to get some training and experience.
“Then, after I won the world championships in the 80s and the 90s, I decided to start training people here. I sort of wanted to give something back to the young people, to let them have the same opportunities as I had. I thought having the chance to take up kickboxing might give them the inspiration to do things, rather than just hang around. Seeing the young people doing so well might also inspire others to take up a sport, or just get interested in keeping themselves fit. We also do different things for charity too.”
Sean McGill, PRO for PT's Kickboxing gym, said they’re thrilled to be featured on Nationwide.
"This is a ground breaking development for the sport in the North West. RTE Nationwide is a community programme that focuses on those who have made a significant contribution to their local communities.
“Paddy Toland is a former three-time world kickboxing champion himself and has to be admired for what he sees as his social responsibility in giving back to the people of Derry and Donegal. Acknowledgement must be given to Paddy for solely building this gym and creating champions. He has given so many people hope and focus in their lives. So this is fully deserved
"He used to walk from Killea to Derry three nights a week to work out in the sport he loved. When people find something that they are good at, it brings out certain qualities and allows them to develop a newfound confidence within themselves. Paddy once told me that, when he was at school in Derry, he was not academically driven at all due to his dyslexia and was wrongly labelled from a young age as being stupid. so his is quite and inspiring story.”
The documentary follows the fighters through a normal day of training. Presenter Mary Kennedy interviews the champions on how they got involved in the sport, how it has affected their lives and how they give back to the community. This is a programme not to be missed by any sports or community enthusiast.
For further information on PT's Kickboxing gym and upcoming events, please visit the club website www.ifka.co.uk.