World Champion Clodagh Cullen is looking forward to the challenges ahead.
19-year-old SETU College student Clodagh Cullen is making great strides in the world of Kickboxing over the past number of years, and the Waterford native is now concentrating some of her time into instructing young kids.
A 3rd dan black belt in both Karate and Kickboxing, Cullen has travelled across Europe representing Pat Rockett’s Martial Arts in Waterford, but has just returned from America after landing gold at the World Championships at Fort Lauderdale in America.
The former graduate of St. Angela’s Secondary School in Waterford did try GAA and football before turning her attention to Kickboxing over 11 years ago, and from that moment, she hasn’t looked back where Clodagh has gone from strength to strength.
A NEW LOVE AFFAIR
So how did Clodagh get involved with Kickboxing? “I tried my luck playing GAA and football with my local clubs before turning to Irish dancing where I danced for my school for many years.
“I decided to take up Martial Arts back in 2011 when I joined Pat Rockett’s, and I am still here. It’s a journey that has taken me from competing at small Inter club fights to fighting at Senior level for my country.
“My heart grew fonder with the sport when I was going through the club gradings, and it took a journey of its own from then. I made my first journey to Poland in 2014 before making the journey to Belgium for the European Championships where I won a silver medal for Ireland at 11.
“In the summer of the following year, I competed in the World Championships in Dublin where I won a silver and two bronze medals. It was an incredible experience representing Ireland in your own country, before later that summer, I won three gold medals for Team Ireland in Wales.”
The medals didn’t end there for Clodagh Cullen, who is currently studying a Sports Coaching and Performance at SETU Waterford. “I was lucky enough to become the first ever female kickboxer from Ireland to take home a gold medal at the Ozowa Cup in Las Vegas, which is something that means a lot to me. I became two-times World champion back in 2017 as well as two-times Irish Karate champion.
“I was also competing in the Kickboxing Irish National championships where I took the first two places in two different weight categories to guarantee me a place on the Irish team. It was really something that meant so much to me considering the amount of effort that I put into getting myself in that position.
“I travelled to Italy for the World Unified Championships becoming World kickboxing and karate Champions taking home two gold Medals. It was a remarkable win in the Kickboxing event as I finished my opponent in only 22 seconds with a knockout, before winning silver and bronze medals in Vegas. I was disqualified in the final for excessive contact.”
THE BIGGEST YEAR
But the best was yet to come according to Clodagh. “I think that when I look back now, 2019 was the biggest year for me to date. I fought my first biggest full contact fight against a girl from Shannon for the Irish Flyweight Kickboxing title where I took the win.
“I then travelled to the World Championships in Bratislava full of confidence where I became champions out of the 58 competitors beating four Americans on my way to the final. I also competed at the ISKA World Kickboxing Championships taking home a gold medals in light and full contact.
“I then defended my Irish flyweight title not long after for the second time, and to become Irish Karate Champions for a third-time in a row is just special. Lockdown was tough, but I became Irish Open Karate champion in 2021, and this year has also been remarkable.
“The year started with me becoming a two-time Irish Kickboxing champion at the eliminations for the Irsh team before stepping into senior level at full contact level where I made my debut against a classy boxer from Wexford Town.
“I was unfortunate to lose out to a girl from Scotland in the International low kick bout, but I plan on having a rematch with that girl in October down in Wexford. I suppose though 2022 will be remembered for my recent trip to Fort Lauderdale America for the World championships that yielded another World Gold medal.”
A FOCUSSED FACE
Clodagh is now focussed on the future. “I still compete nearly every weekend, and I’m also training five-times a week. My coach Pat Rockett has been at Martial Arts for as long as he can remember, and he has been a massive help to me.
“I believe he is the best in the business, he’s makes sure I’m well prepared for fights will go out of his way for extra training and anything he has to do for him athletes. He is happy with any result once we have tried our best and that’s what I admire of him greatly.
“He has been the one and only coach since day one on the mats and in the ring, along with my dad at ring side for every fight these fights wouldn’t be possible without them both. These trips wouldn’t be possible without my parents.
“As an amateur sport we are not funded by our government for any trip and we have to make it happen ourselves. Also to all the sponsors that would have helped me along the way it means the world to have them behind me.
“I have great support at home from family and friends always doing their best to come support and give us the best home comings. This sport is the best sport you make the best of friends and even family I’d be 100 percent recommend Martial Arts to anyone of any age. I’m grateful for my chance, and focussed on the future.” A brilliant journey so far and here’s wishing Clodagh the very best for the future.