MMA fighter Harry Kenworthy targets European glory
Harry Kenworthy has his hand raised in victory. Picture: Palombella Hart Photography

Harry Kenworthy is an MMA fighter from Colwyn Bay who will have a massive opportunity to shine this summer.

The 19-year-old has been chosen to represent Wales in the Junior IMMAF European Championships in Rome in August.

Harry spoke to Grassroots North Wales about his exciting news and hopes for the future.

Can you tell us who you are, your age, where you are based, which gym/club you represent and what discipline of combat you compete in?

My name is Harry Kenworthy, I am 19 years old and I live in Colwyn Bay. I represent Hamma North Wales and I compete in MMA/Mixed Martial Arts.

How do you get into your sport, how long have you been taking part and what is your current fight record?

I got started in MMA from watching videos on YouTube and I was instantly hooked, and I knew I wanted to give it a go. Luckily my sister knew the coach Azi Thomas, so I went to meet him and as they say the rest is history. I’ve been with him ever since. I have competed in MMA for 5 years now and my current record is 2-3.

Your nickname is the Welsh Bandit. Tell us the story behind that.

The meaning behind the nickname came from watching one of my UK MMA icons whose nickname was The Outlaw. I wanted a unique nickname and I always like to stand out, be different to everyone else. I also wanted my nickname to represent where I come from. I’ve been given a few nicknames before, but they were already being used. Once I thought of the nickname Welsh Bandit, I knew it was the nickname for me to use.

You have just been picked to represent Wales in the 2020 Junior IMMA European Championships in Rome. This is an incredible feat – how do you feel about it? were you expecting it?

Being picked to represent Wales is a massive opportunity for me. I have always dreamed of representing my country and now I’ve been given the opportunity to. Also, when my mum was alive, she always wanted me to play rugby for Wales but unfortunately, I had hands like flippers, so that was unlikely to happen.
So, fighting for Wales is the biggest and most exciting opportunity I have been given in my career so far. To be honest I was not expecting to be picked as there were many other great fighters at the trials. When I got the email to say I had been chosen I was speechless but could not wait to start my new journey.

What level will the competition be in Rome? I expect it might be the highest standard you’ve ever faced?

The level of competition in Rome will be some of the best amateurs in Europe. I do believe it will be the highest level of competition I’ve faced so far, but I’ve faced some of the best fighters in the UK, so I’ve gained some experience of fighting high level competition.

How did you getting chosen for Wales come about? Why have they selected you?

I saw the MMA Cymru team were holding trials to find the new Welsh squad for the IMMAFS in 2020, I saw the North Wales trials were being held in IPC Wrexham, spoke to my coach Azi Thomas and he said this would be a great opportunity for me.
On January 19 I went to the North Wales trial in Wrexham and were informed we would know whether we made the team or not within 2 weeks.
I received an email from the MMA Cymru team informing me I had been chosen to represent the Welsh squad. This was then officially announced a few days later on their social media page.
I believe the MMA Cymru team have chosen me to be a part of their squad due to my attitude and commitment. Also, I believe that my style of fighting influenced their decision as I try to take the least amount of damage possible by using my attributes that have won my fights in the past.

You are based in North Wales – a great breeding ground for MMA talent. You obviously know Azi Thomas well. What do you think of him as a fighter? How much of an inspiration is he to you?

I believe Wales itself is a great breeding ground for MMA talent. We’ve got the likes of Jack Shore, Brett Johns and Jack Marshman in the UFC. Plus, the team in North Wales that Azi and Al have built over the years producing some amazing talented fighters.
My opinion of Azi is that he’s one of the best fighters to come out of North Wales as he has represented Wales in the Commonwealth Games competing in boxing and has fought on some of the biggest fight promotions in the UK and worldwide such as Cage Warriors, EFC and KSW. He recently competed in BKB at the O2 in London in front of 2,800 people. Having Azi as a coach is massively beneficial and inspirational for me because he’s competed at the highest level of MMA and boxing. If I ever need help with anything such as sponsorships or promoters, he’s able to help in any way he can.

Who are your MMA heroes?

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones during the UFC 235 ceremonial weigh-ins at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV, Friday, Mar. 1, 2019. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

Jon Jones, Nate Diaz, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Diego Sanchez. These are my heroes because of their styles of fighting and because they are such big fan favourites as well.

What are your ambitions in your sport? How high are you aiming?

I aim to win gold in the IMMAFS and then reach the top of the tree in MMA, which is the UFC. If not the UFC, then Bellator.

I believe you need funding to compete in Rome. How much do you need and how can people contribute? Please give contact/account details etc.

The IMMAFS is completely self-funded and will cost around £1,500. This will include my entry fee, medicals, living accommodations, flights plus insurance. People can contribute by donating on my go fund me page, cash donations, sponsors or by taking part in events organised at paradox health and fitness.
Any business that sponsors me will have their business name and logo on my walk out t-shirt and will be shouted out on my social media. If any business would like to sponsor me, please contact me/Azi Thomas on Facebook.
Here is the link to my Go Fund Me page. Any donation made will be a massive help no matter how big or small.
https://www.gofundme.com/f/harry-kenworthy-immaf-european-championship

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