11.jpg17 of APRIL 2008 . UNICEF HEADQUARTER . GENEVA

KICKBOXING FIGHTING FOR PEACE

* Report by WKN World director M. Billy MURRAY

THE Irish President Mary McAleese Sent Her support

WKN leading sports figures has are “stunned” by the support received from world leaders for a new Europe-wide initiative to help children. Kickboxing kings and WKN men Carl Emery, Toussaint Andarelli, Stephane Cabrera and Billy Murray were all at the launch ‘Kickboxing Fighting For Peace Initiative’ at the UNICEF HQ in Geneva this week – and were joined by a dizzying array of diplomats, senior politicians and international press.

THE Irish President Mary McAleese sent a personal message of support to the launch. The initiative, which was conceived in Belfast from years of work between Murray and Emery, will promote peace and understanding for children across the continent through sport.

It will bring together leading groups involved in martial arts and combat sports across Europe and organise inter-community meetings and/or international events including competitions, training, courses, trips and demonstrations.

The launch was opened by the UNICEF European deputy director Mr Hans Olsen at their headquarters in Geneva. The Irish and British ambassadors were there, the current and past British consul generals were there and also representatives from the Swiss and other governments. “The letter of support and endorsement from President McAleese was a surprise and also meant a great deal.” Said Emery.

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“This programme is about kids – helping them, offering them a future. I get so annoyed when I read all about how bad kids are, how they are the doomed generation. You get any kid, no matter how troubled or damaged or in fact out of control, get them into a gym, on the programme and we guarantee to offer them fresh hopes and perspectives and turn out a very different child. It has worked in the past and will work in the future.”

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Prokick’s Billy Murray agreed “This isn’t some wet wishy washy thing and neither is it about teaching people to fight. It’s non-contact for juniors. It’s about getting them fit in mind and body and abiding by the central planks of my ProKick organisation and martial arts in general – Truth, discipline and respect.

“This programme is a well realised and proper leap forward. I look forward to seeing what we can do with it across the continent and across the world.”

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Belfast’s Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers has also backed the initiative. Prior commitments have meant he was unable to attend the launch, though the city’s head of leisure services and sports development – Mr Cormac McCann spoke on his behalf