A young world-class kickboxer from Stonehaven is going for gold in front of a home crowd in Aberdeen this weekend.
Shaunileigh Malone, 18, is one of hundreds taking part in the Aberdeen Open at Aberdeen’s Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) on Sunday, May 5, from 9am-6pm, as Scotland’s biggest kickboxing competition returns to Aberdeen.
Organised by Stonehaven-based charity, World Karate and Kickboxing Commission (WKC) Scotland, the event attracts international competitors and offers spectators the chance to see hundreds of rounds taking place throughout the day.
Shaunileigh, who began kickboxing aged nine and achieved her black belt at 14 years old, has won a number of major titles including a gold medal at the World Kickboxing Championships in Florida in 2015.
The former Mackie Academy pupil, who is studying events management at Robert Gordon’s University and trains at the Lion’s Den martial arts centre in Stonehaven, said: “People are always surprised when they find out I’m a world champion in the sport because I don’t look like your typical kickboxer!
“I think there’s a bit of a misconception surrounding kickboxing – it’s not all about beating people up and it’s not just for men.
“There are real benefits to kickboxing; as well as being good for your physical health it’s great for building confidence and for meeting new people. I have friends from all over now because of kickboxing, it’s like a big family.”
Shaunileigh will be competing in the light contact and points categories at the event, within one of the eight separate match areas within the arena, with tiered seating to ensure spectators can take in all the action.
She added: “I’m really excited to be taking part in the Aberdeen Open again. I’ve been so lucky to travel to different international competitions but I can honestly say the Aberdeen Open is as good as other worldwide events.
“It’s the best event in Scotland, if not the UK, and in terms of atmosphere it’s on the same level as the World Kickboxing Championships. I’m looking forward to stepping on the mat in front of my family and friends.”
With the event now in its fourth year, organisers hope it will position Aberdeen as one of the world’s top destinations for martial arts and increase public participation in the sport.
President of WKC Scotland Malcolm Evans said: “As well as having brilliant local athletes like Shaunileigh, the event will showcase international and national kickboxing talent. We’ve also got participants who are fairly new to the sport.
“You don’t have to be a kickboxing fan to attend but if you want to find out more about the sport or if you’re interested in being a kickboxer, it’s a good place to start.”
Kickboxing enthusiasts will also have the opportunity to hear from kickboxing legend Jadi Tention before the event. The six-time Sport Karate World champion will travel from the USA to lead a seminar at the Beach Leisure Centre on Saturday, May 4.
Spectator tickets are £8 and can be ordered online at https://www.kihapp.com/tournaments/3949-wkc- aberdeen-open-2019 or bought at the door on the day.