“Barbaric, dangerous and violent.”
Two men locked in a ring but only one man comes out victorious.
As seen by the masses, this is combat sports, but Lincoln Kickboxing Academy head coach Shawn “Boom Boom” Burton thinks differently.
Combat sports have always had negative connotations amongst people outside the sport, due to their “violent” nature but it’s seen as more than that by those in the combat sports circle.
“It helped release a lot of stress I had as a kid growing up,” says Shawn, reminiscing over his childhood memories. ‘I found freedom in kickboxing that I couldn’t find in other sports like football or cricket. Even Karate I started that at six but it’s just like anything, the longer you do it, you kind of want to be a bit tougher something to push me harder, you know, to be better.’
Ready for a new challenge, Shawn found kickboxing at 12, travelling across from continent to continent in which he found great success, picking up title, after title, after title, including the European Kendo Federation (EFK) European Championship, International Sport Karate Association (ISKA) European Championship, World Kickboxing Association (WKA) British Championship to name a few.
He finished his remarkable career with 67 wins, eight losses and one draw putting himself in the history books as one of the greatest English kickboxers.
However, his career wasn’t just gold and glory.
On the road to his first title shot, Shawn was caught with a left hook in round one, which burst his left eardrum, however, he fought through the pain from round to round whilst struggling to gain advice from his corner and struggling to find his balance as blood oozed from his ear.
“It was tough, probably the deepest I’ve had to dig. I don’t think I’ve pushed harder than that in my life. If it wasn’t for that fight, I don’t know if I would’ve won any titles. I think that showed how tough I really was.”
Shawn somehow picked up the win by decision, through the most challenging moment of his life he found a way to win.
He knew he was made for this.
Fights like that defined Shawn’s career, 5’7 and 65kg of pure heart and determination going against the very best anytime, any place. He never “ducked” an opponent, fighting the men that no one would dare to fight.
After several years of giving and receiving damage, Shawn gained the opportunity of a lifetime. A chance that he had been working towards for his whole life, the prospect of having his name engraved in the kickboxing history books forever.
November 21st 2009. Shawn Burton vs Bobby “Jackhammer” Campbell for the WKA World Championship. One moment to write himself in the history books and become not just a national great but an international great. On home turf could Shawn shock the world and become and conquer his American opposition?
Unfortunately, the bright lights didn’t shine on Shawn that night. With the pressure of his friends and family watching him, Shawn suffered a series of shots to the body, crushing into his liver which knocked him down in round one.
Although he had managed to fight his way out of adversity before, Shawn couldn’t muster a way out of this challenge as Campbell kept applying the catching with a second shot to the liver which sent the Brit down for a second time curled into a ball.
With the weight of the world on his shoulders and the crowd willing him on Shawn dragged his limp body to his feet one more time. Luckily he was saved by the bell. Shawn knew he was in trouble and needed to find a way to come back to win.
“I wanted to continue, there was no way I was giving up, when you work for over 10 years to gain a global title shot, I was going to go out on my own shield.”
Typical Shawn, who rose for the second round, clearly drained of energy and weak to his knees kept pushing, kept fighting, kept believing in himself until another flurry of liver shots knocked him down again. Despite this, he got up again and kept fighting but after one more excruciating body shot, the referee had seen enough and called the fight.
The dream for “Boom Boom” had capitulated. Shawn feels like it was one of the worst of his life. “At a young age like that,” he pauses, “it was tough but I handled it well. Most people would’ve given up but I took the setback and I think in the end it made me better.”
“I think the second loss to Bobby hurt more to be honest.” thinking deeply, “I still think about that one to this day.”
Four years later, Shawn got the chance to face Bobby once again, this time in Long Island, New York. This was the second chance he had climbed back the ladder for. Training harder and smarter to become the best in the world.
Yet, once again he fell at the final hurdle, once again he was outdone by his American arch-nemesis however, he couldn’t rise to the top once again.
As much as Shawn loved competing he knew that he wasn’t the best in the world and after failing to find redemption against Bobby he retired. The sound of the “boom boom” had been drowned out by the “Jackhammer.”