A dedicated teenager is taking the world of Thai boxing by storm - after returning from a two month scholarship at the home of the martial art.
Liam McKendry (18), from Kirkintilloch, has spent the last three years learning the art of Muay Thai boxing from former Scottish Super Welterweight champion Mescho Dunko.
Training at Mescho’s M-MAG Martial Arts and Fitness Gym, in Kirkintilloch, Liam got himself noticed early last year when he won his first professional title bout, beating an opponent seven years older than him at a ‘B-Class’ fight in Ayr.
He was selected from scores of hopefuls to land a scholarship at the prestigious Sumalee Boxing Gym in Thailand, where he continued to improve over the summer.
Liam followed a gruelling training regime, working out for more than four hours a day, six days a week, and taking on his first ‘full rules’ professional fight after only two weeks.
It was a baptism of fire, but he came through emphatically and knocked his opponent out with a knee to the head in the fourth round.
Two more fights gave him his first taste of defeat but both opponents were formidable figures - including a current world champion.
His conqueror weighed 96 kilos, compared to Liam’s 76 kilos, but the David and Goliath battle still went the full five rounds and was only decided on points.
The crowning glory came in December when he became the youngest ever ‘A Class’ professional Scottish Thai boxing champion - stopping the previous champion in the third round by way of a technical knockout.
Now the new champion has a busy 2014 to look forward to, with five bouts already booked up -including taking on the fifth-ranked fighter in the UK in Liverpool.
Coach Mescho said: “Liam has gained lots of experience from his trip. I would say he left for Thailand as a boy and came home as a young man.
“Since his return he has passed on his knowledge to everyone at the gym, from the kids to the senior adults, and is one of our original kids to come through our ‘Waterside Martial Art Initiative’.
“He enjoys teaching and helping others in the way others have taught and helped him.”
He added: “Liam is hoping to fight pro at least 12 times this year and after we get through this year he will be a force to be reckoned with in the UK.”
Liam is now looking for new sponsors to help him achieve his dream of becoming a world class fighter. If you can help, contact Mescho on 07807508612.