Jess boys beaten but unbowed after charity fundraiser

MEMBERS of Dromore's kickboxing Jess clan emerged beaten but unbowed after stepping into the ring recently to help a teammate raise money for Cancer Research.

Brothers Scott (21), Ross (22), Wayne (26) and their cousin Stuart Jess (24) were supporting Lisburn's Jennifer Rainey as she hosted a fundraising fight show at Lisburn Leisure Centre.

Jennifer, whose mother, Isabell McCrossan, suffers from cancer, hosted the event to raise funds for the Ulster Cancer Foundation.

Five nations clashed at the Lisburn Leisure Centre, where Stuart Jess was top of the bill.

Stuart was beaten, but not broken, by his defeat against Switzerland's more experienced Sammi Fathallah.

The Dromore man was winning on points before he was caught with a fast combination in the final round, leaving him a bloody nose that forced a stoppage.

He said, "In the week leading up to the fight I suffered a nose injury in training and it came back to haunt me.

"It's a pity it had to end that way because I was feeling good and up to the stoppage I was well on my way to winning, but it is early days in my career and that defeat will not put me off."

Stuart's brother Wayne also lost – in a split decision to former karate star Paul Smith. The Scot clearly knew his way around the ring and used his experience to frustrate his opponent.

Meanwhile, Scott and Ross Jess took part in what coach Billy Murray called "a spectacular demonstration of superb martial artistry". Both will travel to Aberdeen on April 15 for competitive outings.

The Jess brothers and their cousin, who attend the Prokick Gym, recently signed up to Murray's 'I'm a champion, get me in the ring' initiative, a three-year programme promising a kickboxing show every month and regular fights for competitors aiming to complete the gruelling plan with world title shots.

Jennifer Rainey herself jumped between the ropes for her demonstration debut against Belfast girl Angie McCurrie.

She said, "It was a fantastic experience, finally getting into the ring and trading punches and kicks. It was for a good cause and at the same time it was about getting a feel for real contests in the future."

The event gave coaching legend Murray plenty of encouragement for the future. He said, "A big thanks from ProKick to all of you who helped out to make this a great day's fight against cancer."

All told 24 competitors took part on the day.