Comeback for karate legend in NZ

Written by Administrator

Australian full-contact karate legend Garry O’Neill was among some 200 fighters drawn to the New Zealand Kyokushin National Championships at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium on 12 August.

O’Neill on the attack

The event, hosted by Shihan Chris Gower, saw more then 20 NZ dojos participate, as well as three Australian and two Japanese dojos.

A highlight was the superfight between Australia’s Garry O’Neill, arguably Australia’s best full-contact karate fighter, who returned to the ring after 10 years in retirement, and the younger and bigger NZ Kyokushin champion and kickboxer, Jamie Eades.

Within seconds it was obvious O’Neill had not lost his lethal capabilities, as he landed several axe-kicks and came close with his famous spinning back-kick. Eades pushed back hard with rips, knees and low kicks, but O’Neill had lost none of his fancy footwork either, showing the same timing that took him to the top five in the 1995 World Tournament. Despite being 15 kg lighter than Eades, O’Neill kept the Kiwi off balance and pushed him back, using his proven strategy of striking when his opponent is moving and not set to counter.

After three rounds of battle, the match was declared a draw.

Eades summed it up in an interview with local TV show, The Crowd Goes Wild, saying, “Kyokushin is all about getting a hiding and then having someone pick you back up, give you a hiding, pick you back up then give you another hiding, and then tell you that you did good.”

Among the Aussie teams to enter, Shihan Trevor Tockar’s small Bondi dojo team did well, achieving 11 podium finishes, including the top three places in the Open Kata division. Sensei O’Neill, who recently opened a new dojo in Brisbane, has been teaching at Bondi as a guest instructor and it showed on the mat. Among their standouts was heavyweight Reece Henderson, who won his weight division and the Kumite Grand Champion title.

In addition to kata and kumite divisions, the tournament included the Karate Games for children, which included point-sparring, kata, sumo and board-breaking.

Sensei Garry O’Neill will be running kumite seminars at his Brisbane dojo in the coming months. For further information, visit