Big Mac rises to his heavyweight title challenge
IAN McSherry has defied the odds to win a British taekwondo title after being laid low by a mystery illness.
McSherry, who is aged 41 and from Cheadle, was forced to move up from middleweight to heavyweight after piling on the pounds during a three-month lay off with the illness.
But that didn't stop him brushing the opposition aside by winning all four bouts in the veteran class with something to spare at the British Championships in Coventry.
"They originally thought I had pneumonia and so I was treated for that," he explained, "but then they eventually found it was a mild case of asthma.
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"I'm not fat. In fact I was in pretty good shape for the competition, but I was right on the limit for the middleweight category and so went in for the heavyweight instead.
"At the English Championships earlier in the year I was so close to the limit that I had to take to the scales in just my underpants in front of about 4,000 people.
"You certainly can't afford to be body conscious in those situations."
McSherry, who trains under coach Phil Burgess-Walker at the Cheadle and Blythe Bridge Taekwondo Club, has now completed a memorable double because he went on to lift the English title at middleweight too.
But he may forfeit the chance to defend that title in March by sticking with the heavyweights.
"It seemed to go OK for me at heavyweight, so I think I might stay at that weight now."
His sights are also set on next July's World Championships, again in Coventry, when he fancies his chances of making his mark.
"I actually fought the world champion in another competition back in 2008 and only lost by one point," he recalled. "And he admitted afterwards I should have won it, so I will go to the World Championships pretty hopeful next year."