JOHN Kavanagh, the man credited with creating MMA superstar Conor McGregor, was in Strabane at the weekend for a coaching session at the town’s Straight Blast Gym (SBG).
Since opening the first SBG gym in Dublin in 2001, Kavanagh has grown the brand to 35 outlets worldwide.
The SBG team has produced several high profile UFC and Bellator fighters, among them McGregor and local hero James ‘The Strabanimal’ Gallagher.
Kavanagh’s successes recently netted him the Coach of the Year award for 2016 and on Friday night both he and the Strabanimal dropped in to officially cut the ribbon on the new home of SBG Strabane.
Local coach Barney Harte said they were honoured to have the pair visit.
“Since John’s first appearance with us in September 2015 we have had some distinguished SBG coaches visit – people like black belt Tom King and ex-UFC fighter Paddy ‘The Hooligan’ Holohan.
“Friday night saw John display some of his favoured techniques with the seminar running for over two hours to highly appreciative participants.”
During his class John Kavanagh awarded promotions to SBG Strabane coach Darren Friel who stepped up to purple belt, coach Garath Vaughan who moved on to blue belt four stripe and Barry Gallen and Eugene Kerlin who both secured their blue belts.
After handing out the belts, Kavanagh stunned the club by producing a piece of MMA history – Conor McGregor’s UFC 155 belt.
Barney Harte continued, “SBG Strabane is very fortunate to have local SBG and Bellator fighter James Gallagher train with us when he is back in town, a real gentleman and always willing to demonstrate the techniques that have made him such a great fighter. We would like to thank John Kavanagh and James Gallagher for all their support over the last year and for the promotions.
“As a small club we are making tremendous strides and it is testament to the hard work and dedication of coaches and members of SBG Strabane.”
SBG Strabane has just moved to new premises at the Dublin Road Industrial Estate and training continues each Thursday and Friday from 8-10pm.
“We pride ourselves on providing a friendly and inclusive environment and welcome anyone wishing to take up Martial Arts or self defence to come along and have a go,” said Barney.
“Keep any eye for our children’s classes which will be starting in the not to distant future.”