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Martial Arts Honour For Dojo Founder

By Matt Leslie

THURSO fighter Donald MacKenzie received the ultimate accolade in his sport after being inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

The event, organised by MA Illustrated magazine and held in Doncaster, celebrated those who not only have achieved top honours in the sport but to those who have given something back to the community.

It was for his community work that Donald was heralded, having promoted the discipline of Kuk-Sool-Won – a Korean martial art – not just across Caithness but also Scotland.

He was presented with his award by martial arts legends such as Bill Wallace, Chris Crudelli, Benny Urquidez and Brian Jacks – who older readers may remember conquering all in the BBC show Superstars.

It has been a long journey to the top but 50-year-old MacKenzie has reached it after starting out from humble beginnings.

He said: “I was brought up in a children’s home in Thurso. Then when I left, I was at a loose end and moved to my sister’s in Halesworth in Suffolk.

“It was there that I took up martial arts and it sparked off an interest that has continued to this day.

“I moved back to Thurso and while I was keen to keep up my sport, I noticed there was not too many opportunities in the town to do this. So I set up a Kuk-Sool-Won dojo in Thurso, which is now run by Catherine Smith, There was slow interest at first but more students began to come through the door and take up martial arts.

“I then went down to Edinburgh to study health and science at Telford College and I managed to set up a Kuk-Sool-Won dojo there which now has around 200 students.

“There are now Kuk-Sool-Won schools in Thurso, Wick, Edinburgh and Glasgow.”

The Hall of Fame ceremony allowed MacKenzie the opportunity to meet with some of his heroes.

He added: “It is said never to meet your heroes as they may disappoint you but they were brilliant. To receive the award from the likes of Bill Wallace and Brian Jacks was very special indeed.

“I’ve been training for 33 years and this – on top of getting to take my sixth dan black belt – has been a great experience.”

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