English Karate Honours Donovan

A special award was made to England Coach David “Ticky” Donovan O.B.E. at the recent EKGB National Championships at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Sheffield on 13th March 2005.
Ticky, 8th Dan, and head of Ishinryu, was given a “Lifetime Achievement” award by the EKGB Management Board in recognition of his unique contribution to both English Karate, and to the karate world in general in 40 years of top level participation.

The award of an inscribed crystal decanter and set of glasses was presented by Billy Brennan, EKGB President, on behalf of the Management Board and membership in a special break in the competition on the second day of the Championships.

Doug James opened the proceedings by explaining to the audience what was about to happen. Doug then handed the mike over to Mick Billman, who gave a short speech informing the crowd that the Board had decided to honour Ticky with this award and, to make it an occasion for Ticky to remember, Mick had come up with the idea of bringing in some of the former World and European Champions that represented a cross section of Tickys’ coaching career.

In his speech, Mick Billman paid tribute to Ticky’s many achievements and read messages of congratulation from some of Ticky’s contemporaries who were unable to attend. Apologies were read out from Hamish Adams, Pat McKay, and Davie Coulter, representing Scotland, ad well as an affectionate letter from Higashi’s Peter Spanton, who recalled walking into Tatsuo Suzuki’s London dojo in 1965, and finding an immediate affinity with fellow East-End boy, Donovan. Among England’s more recent superstars on the invitation list was Wayne Otto, himself winner of nine World and nine European titles, although, as Mick explained, Wayne was in Australia, unfortunately “along with his congratulatory letter”, so, presumably, Wayne will have to hand Ticky the letter in person upon his return to England!

Many of Britain’s top names, however, had answered Mick’s call and were in attendance to pay homage to Ticky. After paying his own tribute, Mick then introduced former European Silver medallist, Mike Dinsdale, now a member of the WKF (World Karate Federation) Executive Committee, and Treasurer of the European Karate Federation. Both these men were also pioneers of English Karate in the 1960’s.
Next up was English Karate’s Performance Strategist Suzanne Genery, followed by England Kata coach Dave Hazard; 7 times World Champion Molly Samuels, accompanied by former World and / or European Champions; Tyrone White, Eugene Codrington,  Aiden Trimble, Abdu Shaher, Willie Thomas, the fabulous Toney twins, Gillian and Juliette; Philip Francis and Janice Francis, from the family that boasted no less than five champions; members of the current EKGB Management Board and members of the England National squad enjoying so much success over recent months, including current World Champions Rory Daniels and Paul Newby and former World Champ (and current runner up) Leon Walters. Sensei Donovan’s award was met with warm and rapturous applause from all competitors, officials, spectators, and VIP guests alike.

The final introduction was a special surprise for Ticky that Mick had kept until last. Representing Scotland from the days of the Great Britain team, former Scotland manager, Danny Thompson, and former World Champion Gerry Fleming, accompanied by Scottish team mate and former England team masseur, Don Fullarton were brought up to pay their respects to Ticky.

Mick then handed over to EKGB President Billy Brennan, who gave his own personal tribute and then presented Ticky with his memento of the occasion. Ticky then retired to the buffet area where a special luncheon had been laid on for him to meet, chat and reminisce with his guests, while the competition resumed.

Ticky Donovan began his karate career in Wado Ryu under Suzuki Sensei in 1965 and as such was one of the pioneering group of karateka in the country, indeed in Europe. Alongside his contemporaries, Terry O’Neill, Billy Higgins, Steve Arneil, Bob Poynton, Brian Fitkin and a handful of other notables, Ticky was to have a profound influence upon the development of Karate in the sixties and seventies.  As a competitor, he won British individual titles in 1973, ‘74 and ‘75, earning a place in the “Guinness Book of Records”.  In 1969 he founded the now-famous Ishinryu (“One Heart”) school, which has in time come to be recognised as a “style” in its own right.

As a member of the Great Britain team, Ticky achieved Team Bronze in the 1972 World Championships in Paris, and, famously, the WORLD TITLE in California in 1975, beating the Japanese team in the final. In 1976 Ticky was appointed National Team Manager. As Team Manager / Coach, Ticky has led England/Great Britain to five consecutive World male team titles, two female World team titles, and a further six male or female World Championship Team Silvers. To date he can claim credit for over THIRTY world titles - so far! He was awarded the OBE by Her Majesty the Queen in 1991 for his services to karate.

All in all it was not only a special day for Ticky Donovan OBE, but also a very special day for the members of the EKGB to be able to witness such an array of Champions, past and present.