Home » Breaking News » Champion kickboxer says ‘if it was easy I probably wouldn’t want to do it’
Liam Alford has been acclaimed professional World Full Contact Kickboxing Champion after stopping Qasim Beg, undefeated in 49 previous fights, in the fourth round of their contest. 21-year-old Liam returned home to Shannon as the the undisputed world champion and holder of WKO, YKF, ICO and WRSA belts. Photography by Eugene McCafferty

Champion kickboxer says ‘if it was easy I probably wouldn’t want to do it’

SHANNON’S kickboxing world champion Liam Alford was still relaxing after his victory in a world title unification fight in the UK when he spoke to the Champion last Friday.
Five days on from winning the fight against Qasim ‘the dream’ Beg and bringing five world titles home, he admitted to still being a bit dazed by the success. “It hasn’t hit home really, it hasn’t settled in.”
While known as a prodigious talent, the 21 year old was seen as a rank outsider when taking on the Brummie champion, but he didn’t care what people thought. “In a lot of people’s eyes, especially over in England, I was the underdog. But to be honest, myself and my team were really confident. We wouldn’t take a fight unless we were confident that we could win it. To be honest we wouldn’t really worry about other people’s opinions, we know that if we train hard we’re capable of anything.”
In advance he knew that he was in great shape. “The training camp was amazing, it’s probably the best camp that myself and Howie have ever had. We were fortunate that we used the pandemic in our favour, that we had so much time to train.”
In the lead up to it, Qasim was stressing that Alford didn’t have the power to compete with him, words he surely regretted after being stopped in the fourth round.
While Qasim did a share of thrash talking in the build up, Liam said he wasn’t phased by it. “There was more press for this fight than any other one I had, but I just take it as it comes. It’s not a big deal, all you have to do is be yourself, there’s no point trying to be someone that you’re not. At the same time with the thrash talk my opponent was saying, I was taking it with a pinch of salt, because you can talk all you want, but we’re going to meet in the middle of the ring and he’ll have to back it up.”
He says, quite rightly, that it’s important to remain cool when being spoken about like that by an opponent, but it’s something that many people find hard, even at the very peak of combat sports. “I kind of have a cool head on me, I wouldn’t pay too much heed.”
Known as a dedicated fighter, the self-reliance involved in kickboxing is one of his favourite things about the sport. “What I like about it is the challenge, that I’m going up against someone else. Say with soccer, you could train your heart out, but there could be one or two players on the team that wouldn’t be pushing as hard and you could be brought down by them. What I like about fighting is that it’s an individual sport, I know I’m in control and it’s up to me to get myself ready, I’m in control of my own destiny then. It’s very physical and very tough, but I think the harder it is the sweeter the victory is. If it was easy I probably wouldn’t want to do it.”
Liam joined the army last year, training in Collins Barracks in Cork from November to April and he is now attached to Sarsfield Barracks in Limerick.
Joining the armed forces is something he wanted to do all along. “I’ve always wanted to do it from a young age. I didn’t do it straight from school because I was young enough, so I went off and got a personal training qualification. I was working in gyms then, GoGym in Limerick and SKB Community Fitness Centre in Shannon.”
He really enjoyed the training, and feels it helped him get ready for the fight, because by the time his camp began, he was already at a high plane of fitness.
In the future he would like to serve abroad, and he is going to have a chance to use his expertise in fitness. “There’s a new gym after opening up in the Limerick Barracks and I’m going to be working in there, I’m going to be part of the staff running the gym and teaching classes.”
He still lives at his family home in Dun na Ri, and when he defends his titles he wants it to be in this country, giving everyone a chance to see him in action. “I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure it’s in Ireland. People support me so much and I’m so fortunate and grateful, but especially with Covid it has been hard for people to travel abroad. I’d love if people could see me fight live rather than having to buy a pay per view.”
Liam has been with his girlfriend Emma for the last three years, and her support was very important to him as he prepared. “For the build up to the fight she was amazing. She helped me with my food prep, she helped me stay calm and reassured me.”
With so much effort going into kickboxing, which requires such a high level of fitness, life tends to be rather quiet, with little time for much else. “I’d go play golf with my friends, go to the movies with my girlfriend or walk my dog,” he says when asked about other pastimes.
At the moment he has a little bit of leeway, after months of intense training. “It was super hard, but at the same time enjoyable. I love the sport, that’s why I got into it at the very start. We train every morning and every evening; twice a day Monday to Saturday, rest up on a Sunday. I had to cut weight for the fight, so my diet had to be spot on.”
Now, with the victory in the bank, he can relax a little, but one gets the sense it won’t be for too long. “My body will be a bit stiff from the camp and the fight night, so I’ll probably take a week or two off to recover and to relax a small bit, but I’ll get straight back in the gym, not to the same intensity as the fight camp, but I’ll stay ready.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.
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