Kickboxing: Fast-rising Sunny wins new honour; Your Sport PRAISE: Birmingham fighter is hailed at the British Asian Sports Awards.
FORGET the Oscars! A 25-year-old Birmingham kick-boxer has floored the opposition at the British Asian Sports Awards at a glittering ceremony in London - picking up the prestigious Up-and- Coming Sports Personality of the Year Award.
Sunny 'The Hitman' Hira was singled out for his dedication to his martial arts and just pipped another popular local hero to the top award in 19-year-old Walsall footballer Netan Sansara.
Solihull kick-boxer Kash 'The Flash' Gill, aged 42, who first started coaching Hira 15 years ago, was nominated in the Coach of the Year category - just missing out to another kick-boxer, Jagtar Singh Johal of Leicester.
Hira, who was rewarded for his career which has seen himprogress to become a second-dan black belt and who now coaches youngsters in his own right, said: "I'm so proud and happy to receive this award amidst people I love and who love me - it's an unparalleled feeling!
"It's such a huge honour to be chosen by both the public and judges and I would like to say a big 'thank you' to the British Asian Sports Awards for giving me another opportunity to shine."
Former England Test cricketer and BASA brand ambassador Mark Ramprakash, who was honoured with a champagne moment for his achievement in scoring 100 centuries in first-class cricket, said: "The ceremony was spectacular and I was truly humbled to receive an award for what I would describe as the most cherished moment in my cricketing career. I would also like to give my heartfelt congratulations to all the winners and their proud parents."
The event also announced the British Asian Sports Awards and Change4Life partnership that will result in a new identity for the awards ceremony in 2010.
Neeraj Arora, senior vice president of Sony Entertainment Television Asia, revealed the awards would continue to encourage youngsters to take up physical activity but also encourage them to think about the type of food they eat and how to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Arora feels that the new partnership is a positive step forward in making the British Asian community aware of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, "This year's awards ceremony was an overwhelming success and the turn-out has exceeded my expectations," Arora said.
"I couldn't be happier with the show of support we've had this year and hope it carries on in the years to come."
The shortlisted nominees and winners were joined by a host of industry figures, national and international celebrities and leading sports icons including boxing promoters Frank Maloney and Frank Warren, Tracy Edwards MBE - the skipper of the first all female crew to sail around the world in the Whitbread Yacht Race - Oympic gold medallist Denise Lewis, Dragon's Den panellist and business entrepreneur James Caan and ex-footballer Peter Reid.
Performances on the night were provided by Escala, Shola Ama, former Sugababe Mutya Buena, Soul ll Soul and Lemar with the event due to be screened globally by the Sony Entertainment Television Asia channel in April.
A charity auction held on the night also raised funds for the Anthony Nolan Trust, which tries to find bone marrow donors and which is the BASA's nominated charity for this year.
Sunny Hira shows off his award, and inset, celebrates another success in the ring.