EAMON DEANE’S progression as both a fighter and a human being during the past 12 months has been staggering and the talented kickboxer now finds himself on the cusp of becoming a world champion.
When Strike Martial Arts coach, Daniel ‘Pinta’ Quigley first encountered Deane as a heavily tattooed 13 year-old hitting the punch bags in the gym at Templemore Sports Complex, he witnessed a special but raw talent.
When the pair crossed paths again, once Deane walked through the doors of Strike on the Bay Road almost two years ago, the Creggan man claims his life quickly changed for the better.
Lacking belief and direction, Deane (14-1-0) believes he re-invented himself both mentality and physically and quickly matured into a real prospect once ‘Pinta’ took him under his wing.
“When I first started Strike I was a bit immature and ‘Pinta’ reassured me, telling me that if I was to get my act together I will become a world champion some day,” explained Deane.
“So to have someone believing in you like that, it inspired me to change my life. He’s put so much time and effort into me I just want to give that back.
“I had to change my life,” he added. “A lot of people are watching me and I have to be a good role model for a lot of younger people the way ‘Pinta’ was a role model for me.”
Seven years on from that first meeting at the Complex gym and Deane has navigated his way to a world title shot, topping the bill in one of the biggest European kickboxing K1 shows of the year.
The talented kickboxer will spend his 21st birthday travelling to Stuttgart where he will challenge for the ISKA’s Youth world title against ISKA Muay Thai Junior German champion, Maroof “On Fire” Özcan.
He’s now oozing in confidence and despite going into Özcan’s hometown, he can only see one outcome.
I believe in my own ability. There’s a storm coming to Germany and I don’t think he understands what he’s in for!Eamon Deane
“I’ll be taking the belt home,” he insisted. “It might be his home crowd but all the pressure will be on him. I’ll just do what I do best.
“I believe in my own ability. I put in so much effort and I’m so strict on myself with my diet and I push myself that extra mile.
“There’s a storm coming to Germany and I don’t think he understands what he’s in for!
“He has something like six belts. He’s a Thai kickboxing champion as well but none of that matters to me.
“Yes I researched him after finding out his name but I don’t really care about him. I know what I’m capable of and I know nobody goes as hard as I do in the gym.”
Deane earned his green belt in K1 at Strike’s recent grading. He helps out with training sessions and he’s held in high regard by members and parents.
“I knew Eamon was a raw talent who could be worked with when I first met him,” said ‘Pinta’.
“It’s all been about his personal development for me and I’ve watched as he’s matured and really grown as a person.
“He’s become a great role model at the club. A lot of parents and club members have come up to me and told me how much of a positive impact he’s had on people’s lives.
“This fight is a big step for him. It’s the biggest fight in Europe this year.”
It’s been an impressive transformation in such a short period of time but Deane puts that down to hard work and dedication. Working 10 hour shifts as an operative at Foyle Food Group in Lisahally, Deane leaves work to spend the rest of his day at the gym.
He’s coming off a loss in his last fight against Dawid Blaszke (Naas) which went to a controversial deciding fourth round in the Longtower Youth Club. He reckons that defeat will spur him to victory next Saturday night.
“There were aspects of that fight where I could have been better and I had to improve those areas for this fight. I think I’ve tightened every aspect of my game since and I don’t think this guy (Özcan) knows what’s coming.”
He’s honoured to be representing Ireland and Strike and he’s desperate to bring a world title back to Derry.
He’s a showman in the ring and he’s hoping his all action style will win over the German crowd on the night.
“It’s like one big dream. From my first fight with Strike in the Waterfoot Hotel about a year ago I was a nobody.
“I fought at 85kg. I’m now fighting at 70kg and I keep getting better and better with each fight.
“Even though I’m coming off a loss it wasn’t a loss in my eyes. I look it as a way to improve myself and re-invent myself as a fighter and I have.
“I’d like to thank Grenade Grill for looking after every aspect of my nutrition. Without them I wouldn’t be able to do three training session a day on top of a 10- hour shift at work,” he concluded.