Dundee kickboxer Sean Wanless has made the decision to retire from the sport after competing in his final tournament on Friday.
Wanless, 36, has enjoyed a near-30-year career in the ring, with many highs and lows along the way.
And it all came to an end in Dublin yesterday as he hung up his gloves following competing at the WAKO Irish Open International, picking up a bronze medal in the process.
The Dundonian, who also runs and coaches at Dundee Elite Freestyle Kickboxing Fight School, had planned to fight at the same event this time last year and make his comeback to kickboxing after serious injury. However, the tournament was cancelled.
It came on the back of his recovery from an elbow injury suffered in competition in Paisley in 2015.
It took Wanless some two years to get back up to speed, largely thanks to the creative, high-intensity training methods employed with the help of Dr John Babraj and the sport scientists at Abertay University.
Despite the disappointment of not being able to make his return last year, “The Warrior” continued to work hard over the intermittent one-year period and won gold in the ring at the World Kickboxing Championships in November 2018 as well as two top prizes at this year’s Watford Open Nationals.
Friday represented his first fights back in a ring, with full contact, and his last ever – a little later than planned.
Looking back on his time in the sport, Wanless spoke fondly of the successes and takes lessons from his struggles with injury.
“I fought the best in the world, even today I’m still mixing it with some of the best,” he said.
“I’ve fought all the top pros from Scotland and as far flung places as France, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Russia.
“Winning the full-contact Scottish title was a big highlight, the World Championships and fighting for the World full-contact title was a huge achievement.
“After my injury I started the high-intensity training in 2016 and 2017, I was in the best shape of my life and really wanted to do the Irish Open last year.
“I was going to go for the world title again and carry on for a couple of years but, with the injuries, I felt that it was time, even back then, so I’m glad to be stepping back from fighting but still involved in the sport as an instructor moving forward.
“It was good to get back in the ring in Ireland, with full contact. It was really interesting to see if I’ve still got it but it was the last time I will compete.
“It was nice because I was coming off a good couple of wins and feeling brilliant.
“Age is just a number and I felt good but it’s more about the timing of it for me to focus on coaching and that will keep me busy.”
Wanless now plans to turn his full attention to the kids, and adults, who fight with his club Dundee Elite Freestyle.
One of which is son Riley, 9, and Wanless feels proud to be able to hand over the torch to a new generation of kickboxers from the city.
He added: “All my focus and energy is going to go into the fight squad to build a strong team and they will take over.
“Riley is one of the best in Scotland and if he does continue in the sport he will go to the top.
“I have been there and done that, so I know what it takes.”