When he pulled up injured in his Irish Open semi-final, Sean Wanless feared he was going have to retire from the sport he loves again.
However, after going on to win the prestigious tournament for the first time, he is keen to get on the road to recovery and repeat the feat in 2021.
The 37-year-old sustained a pelvic injury in Dublin a fortnight ago as he battled Poland’s Lukasz Rafalko in the last four on his way to the light contact veteran’s -84kg title.
It was a tough slog in the final against Northern Ireland’s Chris Dunne but the Dundee Elite fighter won through and celebrated his Irish Open crown with son Riley before he began starting to fear the worst.
Wanless hasn’t had his injury problems to seek down the years, with an elbow problem dogging him since 2016.
However, with six weeks rest and physio exercises, the experienced Dundonian reckons he will be back fighting fit, ready to defend his title.
“It was my fourth time competing at the Irish Open but the first time I’ve won it,” he said.
“I was the runner-up in 2014 and 2015 before getting injured in 2016 and missing it.
“I thought to myself ‘I’m going to get myself prepared and come back to win it’.
“I always wanted to win the Irish Open so I had to go for it.
“I managed to come back in 2018 before getting a bronze in Dublin in 2019.
“So I couldn’t believe I won it this time – it’s the biggest tournament in the world with the best fighters.
“I held my own against some good tough fighters. The Polish boy I fought in the semi-final was really good and, with my injury, it was lucky I stopped him with a broken nose!
“There was three rounds and I was at the bottom section so I think I had the hardest draw.
“But I’m delighted to have done so well.”
Of his injury, the Dundee Elite head coach added: “I need to wait and see how it plays out after the six weeks.
“I’m just hoping I get back. The aim is to do it next year and win the Irish Open twice in a row.
“I need to just pick and choose my tournaments now, against the better and higher competitors.
“I’ve got that experience to keep myself fit for the big ones.”
As for his young fight squad, Wanless is pleased with how things are progressing as they set their sights on the Aberdeen Open in May.
“Our next tournament is the Aberdeen Open and I’ve got six new boys in my fight squad who started with us last year.
“We’re just bringing them on and training with our existing boys on a Friday night.
“We’ve got a 12-strong squad now, it’s all younger kids aged about 10-15 but they’re all getting on and bonding well.
“They all really look up to Aaron Humphries, he’s a talented young fighter and is taking classes for me while I’m injured.
“He’s the benchmark – him, Riley and Derren Currie have all done well recently at the likes of the WKA Scottish Championships.
“As they get older, if they keep on going, they could go all the way.”
Wanless also has plans to improve their facilities at Brooksbank Centre.
“We hope to get a 14-foot ring, which is about £2,000 so we’re looking to raise some cash for that and, thankfully, we have a sponsor on board helping us now.”