Double Glory For Nato

PUBLISHED: 10:52 16 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:38 04 May 2010

NATO Ficarra defied all the odds to be crowned European Karate Champion 16 years after first winning it. The Ely man competed against the best fighters on the continent and came through a gruelling 26 fights undefeated to win the individual and team gold

NATO Ficarra defied all the odds to be crowned European Karate Champion 16 years after first winning it.

The Ely man competed against the best fighters on the continent and came through a gruelling 26 fights undefeated to win the individual and team gold at the Championships held in Milan.

A delighted Nato said: "I'm so happy to have won, I've been in intensive training for a long time and for it pay off with a double gold is just brilliant.

"I told my two girls Daniella and Victoria before I left that I would do all I could to make sure I won it and I'm so happy to be able to have come back with the two gold medals for them."

Despite his double success, the tournament couldn't have started worse for Nato as he was drawn to fight the reigning champion and German team captain in the first round. Nato rose to the occasion though, and the fight was stopped in just over a minute with the German unable to continue.

Nato fought the French captain in the gold medal bout and picked up a comfortable points win despite having broken and badly bruised ribs: "The tournament was relentless and to be honest I didn't really know when and where I broke my ribs but the important thing was getting the win having got so far," he said.

Having conquered Europe, Nato has set his sights on greater glories after his victory afforded him a spot at the World Karate Championships to be held in Japan next year, he said: "I would love to go to the world event and pit myself against the very best but it's a hugely expensive trip and having to fund it myself would be a huge ask.

"I was just happy to have been able to compete in Europe and I'm looking forward to defending my title next year and hopefully I can get the same amount of support from the local people as I've had this year, I've been overwhelmed."

See Nato with his gold medals in the upcoming issue of the Ely Standard out on Thursday (18)

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