Wigan fighters make their mark in Abu Dhabi
Two Wigan lads represented England with distinction at the recent Youth World IMMAF Championships.
Team Kaobon team-mates Jack Grundy and McKenzie Fisher did their town and country proud in Abu Dhabi.
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Jack, the son of UFC fighter and former Commonwealth Games wrestling medalist Mike, placed third in the world in his category.
After getting the decision over fighters from Estonia and Kazakhstan, he advanced past his Ukraine opponent with a D’Arce choke.
A very close loss by decision against an American in the semi-finals ended his challenge, but his dad was hugely encouraged by his achievements.
"It's a massive experience of a lifetime for Jack," said Mike. "Becoming third in the world at a legit weight, with 26 in his category, is a great achievement and we are massively proud of him.
"He came up against some strong nations in his group stages and handled them all well.
"There are so many positives to take away from this experience, it’s about the bigger picture and we are in this for the long haul."
Grundy senior was also delighted with Fisher, who was fighting at this level for the first time.
After losing his opening bout to an opponent from Uzbekistan, Fisher won comfortably against a Czech Republic grappler.
Fisher then defeated a Tajikistan fighter, only for the system to see him bow out at the group stage.
Bizarrely, the Tajikistan fighter advanced to the next stage, and went on to become world champion.
"It was just the way the group stages system worked that Kenzi could not progress through to the semi final," added Grundy.
"We have coached this lad from four years old, he's always remained loyal and done what he is told, and he will go far.
"This is part of the learning curve, mainly to start believing in himself, after beating a world champion in the group stages.
"I am very proud of him for that, and a big 'thank you' to all coaches involved."
Grundy senior has a distinguished record in both amateur wrestling and in professional mixed martials arts.