This year Team National Karate Chicago had 4 fighters compete in the Irish Open and they did fantastic! The Irish open is the worlds largest fighting tournament that attracts the top fighters from all over the globe. Representing National Karate were Alex Dingmann, Steven Harshbarger, Dominic Kraegel & Ross Cooke. The team coaches were Alex Dingmann, Scott Kragel and Jenn Tohtz.
This year’s Irish Open was very different from other years. Most notably because of the biggest snow storm that Ireland had in 36 years. They had 16-20 inches of snow in a country where most people only own a garden shovel and may have never even seen snow before. Some of the locals walked over 3 hours in the snow storm just to fight in the Irish Open. The country shut down roads and most places were closed for the weekend. Team NK’s flight from Chicago to Dublin was one of the last flights to make it into Ireland before the airport was shut down.
The Irish Open is the hardest tournament in the world to win and team NK showed up in fighting spirit. First up was Dominic Kraegel. Making it through a few rounds in one of the toughest weight classes before falling. He then went into another weight class and made through a several rounds and made it to the quarter finals! He fought really well but lost to a really good fight to a Canadian fighter. We are very proud of him.
Steven Harshbarger had a couple of tough matches going toe to toe with some very heavy hitters and earned a lot of respect from his opponents in the heavy weight and open weight divisions. He got a lot of very valuable experience against these world class fighters.
Alex Dingmann was a bit injured going into the tournament with some hurt hips but that didn’t seem to stop him as he took two Gold Medals home! Winning a Gold medal is a major accomplishment at a world class martial arts competition and especially so at the Irish Open. Winning two Gold Medals is pretty rare at these world class events and we are very proud of his performance. Although Mr. Dingmann was successful, it was a very tough weekend for him with 15 fights in total, two split lips and one broken nose. (He doesn’t like to wear a face mask.)
Ross Cooke was the story of the weekend with his gold medal matches. He blasted his way through the -89kg bracket to face the best kicker in the world in Roman Bründl. Roman is a competitor form Austria who has traveled to Chicago to work out with Team National Karate. He is a good friend and very respected. Ross and Roman were the feature match for the weight class finals and fought for the Gold Medal. Roman ended up winning that match giving Ross the Silver. Then, in the final day of the tournament was the open weight grand championship rounds. Ross Cooke representing the Allstars won his bracket to go to the open weight finals. He then beat one of the best fighters in Germany to make to the final fight to face once again… none other than Roman Bründl. They had 2 two minute rounds before crowning the champion. Roman was up 5-3 after the first round. Ross Cooke evened things up, making the score 7-7 after the second round. Over time was one more minute of fighting. Roman Bründl’s best in the world kicking ability gave him the edge as Roman won with a final score of 10-8. It was very exciting!
This was truly one of the best Irish Open Championships. Very good fights and even better customer service and great organization from Roy Baker, the BMA staff and the City West hotel and convention center. They had a lot of hoops to jump through because of everything being shut down due to the snow storm. We were all very impressed with how well they handled everything and still nothing was behind schedule.
Article By Alex Dingmann & Cristan Nelson