|20 of MARCH 2008 . BELFAST . HILLSBOROUGH CASTLE . NORTHERN IRELAND
WKN WORLD DIRECTOR M. Billy MURRAY MET HER ROYAL HIGHNESS QUEEN ELIZABETH II* Report by WKN NORTHERN IRELAND OFFICE
The Queen’s visit to Northern Ireland could not have come at a more promising time for the peace process. Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh carried out a number of engagements in Northern Ireland with one of them at Hillsborough Castle. The Queen was at Hillsborough Castle for a reception with Ulster’s sporting stars, administrators and coaches. And amongst all the high profile mainstream sports shone a glimmer of hope for the recognition of the sport of kickboxing as former four time four weight world kickboxing champion Billy Murray was invited amongst Northern Ireland’s sporting elite.
The Queen and Prince Phillip spoke openly to Murray about the sport of kickboxing. “I was truly honoured to receive the invitation from the Northern Ireland Secretary of state. I’d no idea I was meeting the Queen and Prince Philip, until we were all ushered into a dinning room and were instructed in the protocol if her majesty the Queen or Prince Philip were to talk to us.
“First into the room came Prince Phillip and when we were introduced, the Prince took a keen interest into how I got started in the sport of kickboxing, he asked was I still competing and asked how my team of fighters were doing. He particularly showed interest in my recent trip to China where I was on holiday but also forging new links for the sport.”
“There was a genuine buzz in the air and even more so, when her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II walked into the room. By the time her Majesty came to me I thought she would be tired of talking but she listened attentively and asked questions about the sport. She wasn’t sure where kickboxing originated from, as she thought it was from Korea, but I guess she was getting it mixed up with Tae kwon-do which is an Olympic recognised sport. When I mentioned its origins where from Thailand she agreed and said ‘of course’.
“Her Royal Highness asked where and how long I have been training. Just as she was leaving I said “Ma’am, may I be so bold to say how wonderful you look?” she smiled and said “Thank you.” I couldn’t believe that I was actually standing in a room with all the sporting giants but to top it off, talking to the royal couple Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.
“Directly after meeting the Queen, Murray met Secretary of State Shaun Woodward and his wife Camilla along with the sports minister for Northern Ireland, Edwin Poots, who said “What about you Billy, still kicking?” During the talk with the sports minister it emerged that his cousin was in one of the Prokick classes under the instruction of WKN World featherweight champion Gary Hamilton.
“The sports minister who also helped to introduce guests to the Queen, said to a national newspaper “The Queen showed a keen interest in disability sports and also in kickboxing and gymnastics.” He went on to say “She is a very knowledgeable Lady and it was an honour to have her here.”