BALLYMENA councillor Paul Frew DUP MLA and avid sports fan gets very excited when he has the pleasure of meeting or bumping into a sports star and athlete from any era, age or sport, discipline.
What excites him the most or makes him proud is when they are from Northern Ireland.
That’s exactly what happened when he had the pleasure of meeting Stormin Norman Parke in Rodney Moore’s MMA Gym in Ballymena.
Frew explained: “Meeting Norman was an absolute pleasure. He is a gentleman, a top class athlete dedicated to his trade. An unassuming, polite guy who is candid in his assessment of the difficulties facing the sport he loves. The north Antrim mixed martial arts athlete has achieved so much to date.
“Winning The Ultimate Fighter ‘Smashes’ series has hurled him in to the big time. As a young lad of only 25 years of age coming from a small town like Bushmills this has been a magnificent achievement and should rank right up there with this country’s greatest sporting achievements .
“I watched the coverage of Norman’s bout in Las Vegas, of all places, last month and he again earned a well won victory in what is the fastest growing sport in the world ,televised right across the globe.”
Norman is delighted to help put Northern Ireland on the map. “It’s great to be recognised by my own people and country,” he said
“Northern Ireland means so much to me and its great to have the support of people like Paul who truly values hard work and determination.
“I can’t wait for what unfolds for me in the rest of 2013 and into next year. I have been training much more over in San Diego at the Alliance gym with my TUF coach Ross Pearson and a world class stable of Athletes.
“I’ve worked hard all my life for this shot since I was 15 years of age and I am determined to keep progressing and keep on winning and who knows one day I will be Northern Ireland’s newest World Champion.”
Frew added: “I have no doubt about Normans potential. He’s a humble Ulster man doing what he loves and he is one of the country’s greatest fighters. Norman is a pioneer for mixed Martial Arts in this country. I have nothing but admiration for him because when that bell rings its only you standing there and there are no hiding places. Only you and the athlete in front of you.
“I must say Norman is one of the most likeable, approachable and down to earth professional sportsmen I have ever met and I wish him the highest success for the future. He already has a massive following in Northern Ireland lets hope the TV companies catch on quick!”