Connor Neill is rapidly making a name for himself in British martial arts. After securing the WKC world championship title, Connor has been training hard through the lockdown looking to add to his regional, national and now world titles.
Fighting out of Chris West’s Freestyle Martial Arts, this 16 year old started his martial arts journey as recently as October 2018 but has shown himself to be a rare natural talent.
We recently caught up with Connor who told us:
"I began training in kickboxing to focus on discipline and how to defend myself. In a short space of time I fell in love with it, especially sparring, and shortly after won my first title [WKO English] with only 4 months of training."
The young fighter has quickly gone on to collect more titles.
"I've picked up many titles from regional to world level and do not plan on stopping any time soon.
"My last fight was the WKA Scottish Open, which I won by KO. That was just over a year ago and now I'm eagerly waiting for notice of any upcoming fights."
Connor says his fellow club students have helped him to fall in love with the sport. He continued:
"My favourite thing being a martial arts athlete is the appreciation and respect you get from others in the martial arts community. It's a family-like bond with the members of the gym and teammates.
"The fact I can use my skills and talents to help and teach the younger children in the club makes it even more rewarding."
But fitting an involved training schedule into a teenagers busy life has not been easy.
"Before lockdown in March 2020, I had to balance college and training as they were my main priorities. Usually, I would train 4 days a week Kickboxing and also fit in my cardio and conditioning.
"During lockdown I have managed to continue my cardio and do as much kickboxing training as I can in my house as the current guidelines allow.
As an up and coming star of the sport, Connor is planning to build on the success he's has so far.
"My biggest achievement in martial arts would be when I won my WKC World title. I had to fight 3 talented opponents to win the Gold medal and all the fights were tough.
"I had to beat two former World Champions just to get to the final. I managed to outwork my opponents and come out with the gold medal which was such a proud moment.
"I'm aiming to win a couple more amateur World titles before I turn 18, which was a very realistic goal a year ago when I turned 16, but COVID-19 has put everything on hold.
"I am hoping that it is still achievable in the time I have left.
"Turning professional is a big goal for me in the near future. My goal is to be top ranked fighter in whichever discipline I fight in.
"Further in the future I would love to have my own gym and a good team of fighters training there."
With a wise head on his young shoulders, Connor has some ideas on what he has got to do to achieve more of his dreams.
"I know I need to be training my hardest, taking in all of the advice and information that others give me. It's vital to be
willing to learn new skills and techniques.
"To get to the top you must be willing to do the work others do not." - Connor Neill
" I follow this quote by Mike Tyson- 'Discipline is doing what you hate to do, nonetheless doing it like you love it.' I like to always put my everything into training and getting the extra work done."
Like any successful athlete, Connor has a support team around to help, he added:
"My dad is an ex-champion bodybuilder, strength athlete and nutritionist so I am lucky to get free advice from him!
"I eat pretty healthily most of the time, high protein,moderate carbs and low fat. But I do have at least one treat a week like pizza and ice cream, unless I am cutting weight for a fight.
"I train and run almost every day so I can get away with the odd takeaway between fights. I use a protein powder for drinks once or twice a day, I take cod liver oil and evening primrose oil for essential fats, multivitamins, vitamin C, and most importantly vitamin D.
"Vitamin D is essential for strong bones and muscles and helps reduce the chances of injury. We make vitamin D naturally when exposed to sunlight, but in this country most people cannot get enough sunshine during winter and so end up being too low in vitamin D which leads to health problems and is really bad for any athlete or sportsman, and fighters of any combat
sport especially, in my opinion.
"Most professional football and rugby teams who have professional nutritionists have their players supplement with vitamin D during the winter, but anyone who mainly trains and/or competes indoors should take it all year around.
"Anyone reading this can use my personal discount code MARTIALARTS21 at sunvitd3.co.uk. They are one of my sponsors and I really appreciate all fo the support they've given me.
Connor concluded with some words of advice for any young fighters looking to emulate his success.
"Learn from your mistakes and come back a whole new animal. I believe in that old saying ‘you either win, or you learn."
Follow more of Connor's journey on his instagram account - http://instagram.com/connor.04
Video Source: Barry Neill.