Martial arts: Scott Hughes takes seven gold medals at worlds

James Watson and Scott Hughes
James Watson and Scott Hughes
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A martial arts expert from Edinburgh has returned from Italy as a world champion in no fewer than seven events.

Scott Hughes from Meadowbank triumphed in Tuscany at the Unified World Championships at the weekend, showcasing his skills in kickboxing and taekwondo on the way to an eight-medal haul that included one bronze.

Scott, 20, represents Scotland as well as The Watson Team run by Leith’s James Watson, who has coached Scott for 12 years.

Former Abbeyhill Primary and Drummond High pupil Scott medalled in all of the eight categories he entered at the global gathering in Carrara, which included competitors from across Europe, the United States, and Australia.

“I have attended these world championships for the past four years now, winning three golds, then five, then four, but this year – with seven golds and one bronze – is a topper for me,” said Hughes, an apprentice heating and ventilation mechanic who gained his black belt aged just 12.

In Italy last weekend, he won gold in kickboxing’s minus-89kg, minus-94kgs, and plus-94kgs light contact categories, and, in the points section category, bronze at minus-94kgs and gold at plus-94kgs. In taekwondo, he won the plus-85kgs and open weight categories of under ITF rules, which are similar to kickboxing. In the Olympic-style WTF version of taekwondo that is more unfamiliar to Scott and for which he had not trained, his decision to enter competition more in hope than expectation yielded the highest possible reward.

“It will be difficult to retain my titles, but I’ll keep training hard and see where it takes me,” said Hughes.

“In the last year, I’ve been part of the Scotland team that take part in competitions around the world. In July next year, the taekwondo world championships, with thousands of competitors, takes place in Birmingham. There are five men and the women in the Scotland team, and we all go to squads every Saturday in Hamilton and they pick the squad based on your performance there.

“Breaking into the Great Britain team is a work in progress. It’s hard to get into, but, hopefully, in the coming year, with training, I’ll be able to make it.”

The pinnacle for any taekwondo player is success at the Olympic Games, while, in kickboxing, a winning record at professional level is the prime target. These are now the heady aims for Scott, who, as an eight-year-old, was encouraged by parents Etta and David to take up a sport just to get him out of the house.

“I was a bit lazy when I was younger and my mum said she’d take me to martial arts but that I’d have to stick to it,” he explained. “By the time I got my sparring kit six months in, I loved it. I loved the competition, training, and the social side. You have a kind of family at the club here.

“I was attending sessions four nights a week soon after beginning lessons, then, by the time I was 12, it was every night. It was something that you looked forward to at the end of each day, and, if you’d fallen out with your friends at school that day, you got to fight them later on!

“My mum and dad have been majorly supportive. They’ve paid for all the competitions for years and always encouraged me to go across Scotland and abroad for training and events.”