Stephen puts Barrhead on the martial arts map by securing a world title

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At the age of 15, martial arts expert Stephen Simmons-Clancy already packs a punch.

And now the Barrhead schoolboy is on top of the world, having fought his way to global honour.

Stephen traveled 3,500 miles to Calgary, western Canada, earlier this month to claim top prize in the Under-16 category of the World Boxing Council (WBC) Muay Thai Youth Championships .

Stephen celebrates his success at the WBC Muay Thai Youth World Championships

Muay Thai is a particularly popular form of boxing in Thailand.

Barrhead High student Stephen beat his Mexican opponent in the final at Winsport Arena on August 14, having already claimed victory over number one Canadian and local favorite en route to the gold medal showdown. ‘gold.

This victory was just the reward for all the hard work he has put in over the past few years.

After lessons at school are over for the day, Stephen walks 60 miles to a mixed martial arts gymnasium in Bathgate, West Lothian, and returns late at night.

Barrhead News: Members of the Barrhead Community Muay Thai Boxing Club with George MannMembers of the Barrhead Community Muay Thai Boxing Club with George Mann

He also goes there to train on Sundays.

And it is this impressive level of dedication and work ethic that gives him hope of becoming a professional fighter and competing in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) – the world’s largest martial arts organization.

Stephen, who has five brothers and a sister, “also keeps him in the family” as his 19-year-old brother Sean has two mixed martial arts titles.

Their proud mum Lynne, 38, told the Barrhead News: “Stephen is currently number one in Scotland in his under-16 age group in Jujitsu. He also does wrestling.

“Every day after school he goes to the Higher Level MMA gymnasium, Bathgate, which may involve two trains and a bus.

Barrhead News: Early success has Stephen dreaming of Ultimate Fighting Championship careerEarly success has Stephen dreaming of a career in the Ultimate Fighting Championship

“Stephen has waited so long for this success and worked so hard. He’s really dedicated and has little time for a social life, but he’s starting to see the rewards of his hard work.

While out of school over the summer holidays, Stephen even slept overnight at the Bathgate gymnasium so he could do morning and afternoon sessions each day.

Despite the busy schedule, he hasn’t skipped his studies and is catching up on his homework while traveling to and from the town of West Lothian.

Stephen, who won’t turn 16 until November, plans to go on to graduate school next year, having already passed his National 5 exams.

He flew from Glasgow to Toronto on August 10, then to Calgary after a 16-hour wait to compete in the Youth World Championships.

His mother also paid tribute to members of the local business community who have financially supported Stephen over the past two years.

They include Victorious Tattoos, Reilly Reinforcements Ltd, No Pretty City clothing company, CP Roofing Solutions, Saltire Carpeting, Maple Joiners, Derek Nicoll, Railway Cottage Nursery, The Bankhouse (Paisley) and Le Dance Studio.

Lynne added: “The local community has been amazing and really stepped up to help.

“Our family hails from Barrhead and Stephen is proud to represent his home town.

“Stephen wouldn’t be at this level today without their support. However, he is still looking for new sponsors.

Anyone interested in sponsoring Stephen should get in touch via social media at www.facebook.com/sean.clancy.520.

Meanwhile, Barrhead welcomed another Muay Thai World Champion as George Mann returned to his roots to put local fighters through their paces.

George took time out of his busy schedule to run a skills course at his former training location, the Barrhead Foundry, while traveling back from Australia.

It was a chance for him to “repay the blow” to Vinnie McWilliams, who runs the Barrhead Community Muay Thai Boxing Club.

Barrhead News: George (left) met Vinnie McWilliams at the Barrhead FoundryGeorge (left) met Vinnie McWilliams at the Barrhead Foundry

George said: “Vinnie was a huge part of my development as a fighter.

“Because of him, I was able to fight and win the Scottish title, the British title and the European title.

“Flash forward many years later I was able to go back to teaching, training and chatting with his new team in the same place I learned.

“Never forget those who help you get to where you are today.”

Vinnie said it was a pleasure to welcome George to Barrhead.

He added: “All the students were thrilled to train with George because of what he achieved and you could see they were a bit stunned.

“It was a fantastic experience for everyone involved to be able to bring in a fighter of George’s level and share his knowledge with a community club.”

Kirsty MacIntosh, of East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure, which hosts the Barrhead Community Muay Thai Boxing Club, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome George to the Barrhead Foundry.

“It’s great to see athletes returning to their roots after doing so well on the world stage.”

Club members meet at the Barrhead Foundry from 8-9:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and 6-7 p.m. on Fridays.

Anyone interested in joining is welcome at these times.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/bcmtbc.

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