Karate Champion Nato heads to Europe

PUBLISHED: 12:35 28 November 2008 | UPDATED: 10:38 04 May 2010

NATO Ficarra is bidding to re-gain his title as European Karate Champion 16 years after he last won it. Having first won the title in October 1992, Nato has decided to return to the championships - being held this year in Milan - in a bid to bring home

NATO Ficarra is bidding to re-gain his title as European Karate Champion 16 years after he last won it.

Having first won the title in October 1992, Nato has decided to return to the championships - being held this year in Milan - in a bid to bring home the gold for a second time.

"I'm definitely ready to have another go at these championships. I've been training five days a week at the Glebe in Sutton and Green's in Cambridge and I really am in the shape of my life.

"I've lost one and a half stone in the last two months and I'm going out there with every intention of getting gold medals. People have come up to me in the street and have told me what I'm doing reminds them of the Rocky story and I love that."

Nato will be competing for the title with 77 other fighters from across Europe with an automatic place in the World Karate Championships, to be held in Japan, awaiting the winner. Nato said: "This tournament is full-contact which means, unlike the Olympics, you are allowed to throw punches, and blows to the face are permitted, its going to be a full-on affair."

The draw for the first round fight has already taken place and Nato has been pitted against the German team-captain who just happens to be the incumbent European Champion.

"As if fighting the German captain wasn't enough, the fight will be the very first fight of the entire tournament so we are sure to have all eyes on us, especially as we will be the only two competitors there who have ever won the tournament before.

"But to be the best you have got to get past some great fighters and the German team captain is just the sort of guy I'm going to have to test myself against."

The tournament starts on December 14 with England captain Nato and his seven-strong team, who all had to come through rigorous trials to get to the tournament, heading out two days prior.

Nato shapes up for his tilt at the European Karate Championships 4931ExNato Photo: Helen Drake

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