We need more recognition of our past athletes to keep them around in Karate and utilise their talents and skills – so many of them just seem to disappear.Patricia Duggin
A pioneer of women’s competitive Karate in the United Kingdom, Patricia Duggin won around 53 medals at European and World level, in a 14-year career. She was a focused and determined competitor, always seeking to dominate her opponents.
Patricia Duggin was born around 1973, in Hackney, East London to Fred and Denise Duggin. Growing up, she was very sporty. She participated in various sports, including rounders, cricket, football, and swimming.
In 1983, Duggin started learning Karate, at the age of 10. She was introduced to Karate by some of her friends and cousins, who were already training.
Interested in the techniques that she had learnt from her friends, Duggin joined a local karate club that was a part of Ian Cuthbert’s and Dave Hogan’s Wado-Ryu group. The United Karate Association (UKA,) was affiliated with Carl Dyer’s Inshalla group.
Duggin’s first instructor was a lady named Sue. She trained with her for around a year. She took part in a kids competition run by Ian Cuthbert. He was impressed by her talent, that he invited her to train at his dojo.
Around the age of 11, Duggin moved to Gants Hill, Iford. She was still involved in athletics at the time. She represented her county and the Borough of Hackney. She also had the opportunity to join Essex Ladies, which was a successful athletic club in the UK. The club has produced many athletes, like Sally Gunnell, who have represented Britain at the Olympic level.
However, Karate had become Duggin’s true passion. She soon gave up athletics to focus on her Karate practice. By this time she was sparring against men and women much older than her. She absolutely loved it.
By the age of 15, Duggin was frequently competing as a kumite competitor. Both Cuthbert and Hogan recognised her talent for fighting and took her to various tournaments in the UK and across Europe to compete. At the time, there were not many girls her age to compete against. She would compete against boys aged 16 – 18 years old. Initially, she struggled. However, in time she was able to compete well against them. She even won some medals. Because she was used to fighting men, she proved much stronger than many of the young woman she faced. By this time she was training five days a week.
In 1989, aged 16, Duggin attempted her grading for black belt. The grading was very tough. During the grading, she had to fight all the male black belts for 30 minutes. She had to face a fresh fighter every minute. She successfully passed the grading.
Duggin’s first major championships was the European Wado Championships held in Paris in 1989. She won her division.
The 11th World Karate Championships were held in Granada, Spain in 1992. By this time, Duggin’s strong showing at various tournaments earned her a callup to Ticky Donovan’s National Squad. Aged 19, she was the youngest member of the squad and this was the first time she had represented Great Britain. At the time she had not even represented her home nation of England. Molly Samuel was her roommate during their stay in Spain and was a mentor to her.
Surrounded by the likes of Willie Thomas, Wayne Otto, and Molly Samuel, who had all won gold in their respective kumite events, success rubbed off on Duggin. She was a member of the Women’s Kumite Team, which included Janice Francis, Julliet and Jillian Toney. The team defeated the Netherlands in the final to win gold. This was Duggin’s first international success at a senior level.
Between 2 – 4 May 1994, the European Karate Championships were held in Birmingham, England. Now an established international, Duggin competed in the Open Kumite event where she won a bronze medal. Later that year, she competed at the 12th World Karate Championships held in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. She reached her second Women’s Team Kumite final. This time, the team were runners-up to Spain.
At the 1995 European Karate Championships held in Helsinki, Finland, Duggin repeated the previous year’s success, winning another bronze medal.
Duggin’s greatest tournament success came in 1996 at the 13th World Karate Championships, held in Sun City, South Africa. She became a double gold medallist. In the final of the Women’s Individual +60 kg Kumite event, she defeated Theodora Dougeni of Greece. She was also a part of the British Team that defeated Italy in the final of the Women’s Team Kumite.
Further individual success followed for Duggin, with a bronze medal at the 1997 World games held in Lathi, Finland and a silver medal at the 1998 European Karate Championships held in Belgrade, Serbia. She also helped the British Women’s Kumite to a silver medal at the 14th World Karate Championships, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
By 2002, persistent injuries had begun to plague Duggin. That year she retired from competitive Karate, due to re-occurring Achilles tendon injuries.
Duggin opened her own dojo in Wanstead, East London in 2002. She also taught at another dojo in Covent Garden, Central London. Both clubs were affiliated with Ian Cuthbert’s United Karate Association (UKA).
Apart from teaching at her dojo, Patricia Duggin is involved in coaching and refereeing. She has been known to still compete occasionally. She continues to impart knowledge to her students and the next generation of competitors.