Eoghan Chelmiah -- It's pronounced "Owen" -- is the very first fighter to win at Bantamweight (~135lbs/61kg) inside The Pit. And he did it with a KO victory over Kevin Azouz, who also earned a Karate Combat contract for his performance that night.
You can hear Eoghan reflect on his Event 1 performance Pit-side with Layla Anna-Lee, or learn why Robin Black called it "Fight of the Night" in his analysis. I, on the other hand, took the chance to learn a bit more about the 24-year-old's life outside of The Pit, in this Karate.com exclusive interview.
Action Movies & Influences
A time-traveling birdy told me that Eoghan would be heading to 1980s Hollywood for his next fight, so we started off talking about his favorite action movies.
Eoghan Chelmiah (EC): "My favourite action movies would be...
- Enter the Dragon (1973)
- Blood In, Blood Out (1993)
- Django Unchained (2012)
- 300 (2007)
- Kingdom of Heaven (2005)"
A solid list, and he gave me the years, himself!
Dane Curley (DC): "Now, I know your mother is the key influence on your Karate, but how impactful was Enter the Dragon on young Eoghan?"
EC: Yes, definitely my mother was my main influence. Well, when I was younger, I was never allowed watch those films. But I was allowed to see some of the fight scenes when I started Karate (at 4 years old), and I was inspired by Bruce Lee to train harder and improve.
DC: Wow! That's cool of mom to fast-forward through the movies to show 4-year-old Eoghan the Karate-relevant scenes, haha.
EC: Actually my father was the one who would be fast-forwarding through each scene before I went to Karate classes, lol. I’ve grown up with both parents being super supportive of me and my brother.
DC: That brings me to your back-tattoo: your last name. What does the name "Chelmiah" represent to you? What do you want it to represent to others?
EC: I guess for me, it’s a way I can personally represent my family and my heritage. Similar to how athletes in sports such as football and basketball, where players have their names printed on their back. In most combat sports we do not wear shirts, so [my tattoo] makes me identifiable to spectators of my fights.
DC: Sir, I love that explanation... because a lot of fighters have sports jersey-style back tattoos. Makes good sense of it.
In terms of heritage I understand you are both Mauritian and Irish?
EC: Yes, my father is Mauritian and my mother is Irish.
DC: I could not be forgiven if I did not ask an Irish fighter for their opinion on Conor McGregor's rise to super-stardom. Is he an inspirational figure to you in any way?
EC: I was dreading McGregor questions, but yeah it must be addressed.
I wouldn’t be the biggest fan of him or his antics. [But...] there is no doubt that he has been a huge inspiration for a lot of young people in Ireland to begin their martial arts journey.
Conor has been a huge influence to make martial arts a mainstream topic in Ireland.
DC: So, McGregor as a martial artist, you pay respects. But McGregor as a fight promoter, not exactly your style?
EC: Yes. He was a truly phenomenal athlete who was ahead of the pack for a brief period of time, but I guess his style of selling a fight doesn’t quite line up with what I personally want to portray.
DC: So while we are being critical, what is your biggest Self-criticism?
EC: My biggest self-criticism would be that I am often a perfectionist when it comes to anything really. I’m extremely particular in how I carry out things [including] training, competition, or even academic related tasks. [And] I tend to be extremely competitive, which works for and against me at times.
Eoghan is presently studying for his PhD in Engineering at the Institute of Technology Carlow, where his research revolves around machine-learning, and digital signal processing techniques for induction motor fault diagnostics and prognostics.
Don't worry. I don't know exactly what that means, either. Other than that Eoghan Chelmiah is a very smart fellow!
DC: And then, what is your best Self-compliment.
EC: My biggest self-compliment I would give myself is that I work extremely hard.
If I get defeated by a better fighter, so be it, but I will not be outworked. That’s where my confidence in fighting stems from. I know stepping in there that I’ve given it everything I’ve got.
"My Style Is Aggressive"
DC: Your fighting style in your first Karate Combat match was a bit unique for The Pit, in that you pressed forward with an intimidating attitude, shaking off your opponent's offense and utilizing constant forward pressure. It reminded me of a Western (US/UK/Ire/Mex/etc.) Boxing approach. Do you have non-Karate Combat experience?
EC: My style is aggressive and it’s a huge compliment that you even mentioned those Western styles, as that is the style of a lot of my own combat sport idols.
DC: Please tell me who a few of them are!
EC: My favourite fighters would be Roberto Duran, Julio César Chávez, Barry McGuigan and Mike Zambidis.
Yes, he input the accent marks on "César Chávez," himself.
Actually I’ve competed at both national and international level in boxing, kickboxing, Tae-Kwon-Do, and mixed martial arts (MMA). I’ve picked up multiple national titles in both boxing and Tae-Kwon-Do, and had the chance to represent Ireland at European and World Championships in amateur MMA.
DC: Do you follow a mantra? Any kind of saying or reminder you repeat to yourself?
EC: Not particularly I guess there’s no one significant mantra or saying that I would repeat or stick to. I like to read about historical figures like ancient conquerors and kings, and I often come across nice phrases from biblical texts, but no one mantra sticks out for me yet.
Eoghan Chelmiah Will Fight Twice More in Season 3
After sharing a history book recommendation from my studies in Latin, I gave Eoghan his day back. As he is both a professional Karate Combat fighter and PhD research student, I am grateful for what time he shared with us for Karate.com.
Eoghan is scheduled for two more fights this season of Karate Combat, including soon-to-air Event 6.
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