Tributes paid to city soldier and fight star killed in Afghanistan

HE WAS described as a "true warrior" for his bravery in conflict overseas – but at home he was also known for his fighting prowess in a cage.

Private Sean McDonald, 26, from Currie, who was killed by an explosive in Helmand's Sangin province on Sunday, was also a keen cage fighter who trained at Alba Dornadair mixed martial arts club in Duddingston.

"Alba Dornadair is Gaelic for Scottish Fighter," said Pte McDonald's fighting coach Willie Scott. "The title of our club has never seemed more appropriate following the death of one of our own in battle."

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Canadian-born Pte McDonald had trained at the club for more than two years, and was due to fight his fifth competitive match in May. Mr Scott said the match would now be rearranged and staged in his honour.

Mr Scott, 45, added: "Sean had a lot of potential to become a great mixed martial arts fighter.

"When he came to us around two and a half years ago, he had a good competitive record in karate and said he was ready to take his martial arts to the next level.

"You could tell there was something about him from the minute he walked through the door.

"A lot of the guys we see only come here because they want to boast that they're a cage fighter on their Bebo page, but these guys usually don't last five minutes.

"Sean was different. He was very attentive, asked a lot of questions, and then he would go away and practise, practise, practise."

Former Currie High pupil Pte McDonald had already won one of his first four competitive matches, and Mr Scott said he was improving all the time. He added: "Before he went out to Afghanistan he was already talking about leaving the army. He said it was time for a change of career.

"He sent me a link to a YouTube video of a battle he was in, with bombs going off and bullets flying overhead, and it was frightening just watching it so I can't blame him for wanting out.

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"He wanted to keep the cage fighting going, and even posted a message on the club forum from Afghanistan talking about how much he was looking forward to the next fight."

Mr Scott was told the news of the explosion by Pte McDonald's mother Jaqueline the day after his death. He said: "She was absolutely devastated, as was his wife Jenny. I've met them before and they are both lovely people, and I can't imagine how they are feeling.

"I was still on a high from a fight night we had at Dalkeith Miners Club on Sunday, when unbeknownst to us Sean was heading to his death in Afghanistan that very same evening.

"We train a lot of different people here from doctors to accountants to policemen as well as several squaddies from 3 Rifles (based at Redford Barracks], many of whom talked about the number of funerals they've been to already in the last few months.

"Out of around 100 students at the club you wouldn't find one who would say a bad word about Sean. He was a good fighter and an all round nice guy."

Several of Pte McDonald's comrades spoke of how frequently he mentioned his love of the extreme fighting sport, even setting up classes at The Royal Scots Borderers' base at Dreghorn Barracks. One friend posted an online video tribute to him at>_9GGTyBhpzc.

The short film features clips of Pte McDonald cage fighting, put together as a surprise for him. The friend wrote: "Sadly he never got to see it."

Pte Carl Fisher said: "I will always remember Sean for his storytelling and his love for his wife Jenny and also not to forget his cage fighting. He will be missed dearly."

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