On the weekend of May 23rd TEAM EPIC descended on Budapest, the capital city of Hungary and took 11 competitors to battle against some of the world’s best fighters in a massive tournament. The Hungarian world cup was into its 23rd year and attracted 2600+ fighters to compete across points fighting, light continuous, kick light and full contact.
The EPIC team that went was: Andy Cleeves, Harvey Pollard, Sean MacDonald, Alex Fellender-Evans, Ben Davies, Rakan Sabbah, Brooklyn James, Teia Doyle, Ellie Doyle, Harrison Doyle and Dylan Hunt.
TEAM EPIC finished 14th out of 156 teams which is a massive step and progression for the Bristol-based club who are locking horns with some of the best teams in the world and are quickly establishing theirselves as such. With 5 of the 10 gold medals that GB fighters won out there, this also states the national standard in which the team often dominates medal tables. The overall medal haul was 5 gold, 1 silver and 7 bronze medals.
Sean MacDonald made his international debut at the delicate age of 8 but this young warrior pushes from strength to strength as he won a bronze medal in the 8-9 year old -25kg category. He then came 5th in the 8-9 year -28kg, narrowly missing out on the semi finals by losing in the round of 8. He did however win another bronze in the male children white and yellow belt category -28kg.
Harvey Pollard, also making his international debut, fought in the -25kg mixed children category and the 7-year old showed much heart and passion as he battled but narrowly missed out in the quarter finals. He fought well in the -28kg mixed category and was unlucky to miss out on a quarter final place against a very tough opponent who went on to win the division. Pollard, 7, also stepped into the -28kg white and yellow category and again fell short in the round of 16 but has taken away alot of experience.
Brooklyn James fought in the -57kg category for points, continuous and Kick light and was unlucky not to place in any of them. It was his first competitive go at kick light and he held his own which was pleasing for his coaches to see.
The Doyle sisters were the stars of the show as they won 2 golds each, Ellie won a silver too and Teia won a bronze in the -32kg points. Ellie smashed her kick light category to get through to the final and used slick movement and crisp techniques to beat her final opponent and claim gold. She then went and did the same thing in her continuous category. She bossed all of her fights against some tough opponents. A slightly off-the-pace performance in her final in the points prevented the clean sweep of golds but after so many fights to claim the silverware in her other categories she was still putting her all into it. Teia Doyle, 8, won opening points category and stood on the centre piece of the podium and savoured the moment. She then went on to win in the points -25kg category, displaying those flexible kicks and stunning timing as she dismantled her opponents’ fight plans and once again topped the podium.
Harrison Doyle went into the tournament in a very busy -42kg light continuous category and came out with a bronze medal. He won a couple of tough fights to set up a semi final place. The fight was very close but unfortunately for the Bristolian fighter on this occasion the decision went against him and he took away experience as well as a bronze medal for his efforts.
Rakan Sabbah won a gold in the kick light -80kg intermediate category after winning his opening fight with robust hitting and persistence when under pressure to set up a semi final fight against a Ukrainian opponent. Sabbah was too much to handle for his opponent and set up a final against a home-national. Despite the Hungarian being favourite on home soil, Sabbah had other ideas and demonstrated heart, power and ‘always believed’ he would win. He did! He had previously won a bronze in the light continuous -80kg after losing to a greek fighter in the semi finals who was very ‘leggy’ and landed several head kicks on the Jordanian Team EPIC fighter. On the Sunday Rakan fought in the advanced -74kg category for light continuous and after beating a Hungarian in the first round, he then lost to a Slovenian in the quarter finals.
Alex Fellender-Evans was unlucky to lose out in the quarter-finals of both the -28 and -32kg points categories. He is moving better than ever and clearly understands the sport well as he sets up wonderful leg passing techniques and quick blitzes through movement of the front foot but was just unable to beat his two quarter final opponents in those two categories. Evans however did win a bronze in his -28kg light continuous category with a fine set of performances.
Dylan Hunt won a few fights in his respective categories but couldn’t quite find the answers past world-class opponents in the quarter finals. He was unfortunate to not get a few decisions but his knowledge of the sport is growing as has committed himself to progressing with the kickboxing. As a talented gymnast Hunt has a very agile and quick style which can be a real pleasure on the eye.
Andy Cleeves started with his usual flair as he first blitzed his opponent and then swept him clean to the floor as he stepped into him and took his standing leg. The greek opponent came back stronger in the second round with a staggering kicking ability. The fight ended close but a couple of head kicks meant the Greek progressed to the next round.
Ben Davies also produced fine performances to get through the earlier rounds in his categories and eventually lost out in the quarter finals of his categories to strong opponents. Some very close-fought encounters went in his opponents favours but the performances were good and in a marginal sport these fights can be decided by one mistake or bad call. Davies, a current British champion, will be back and win plenty on the circuit.
Team EPIC entered a children’s team which was: Alex Fellender-Evans, Harrison Doyle, Ellie Doyle and Dylan Hunt. The team came 5th, losing out narrowly in the quarter finals. The team are planning to enter more team events soon.
Team EPIC are proudly sponsored by Safety Horizon South West.