Foursome in form for competition debut

FOUR Warrnambool fighters will attempt to put the south-west city on the Muay Thai map when they venture to Melbourne for an interclub competition.

Chris Smith, Bernie Mahony, James Russell, and Dale Rea are in final training for the day-long competition at Hammer’s Gym at Blackburn on Sunday.

They will discover who their opponent is on Friday, with officials allocating bouts based on fighters’ ages, height, weight and experience.

About 200 competitors will take to the ring throughout the day.

Coach David Gibb, of Spartan Combat Systems, said the competition was “modified Thai”, a semi-contact brand of Muay Thai for novice fighters. 

Results are points-decisions only.

Gibb said his four prospects “could come away with a win, they’re all looking really good”.

“Every martial art has its different elements. Thai boxing is the most proficient stand-up art. It’s also known as the art of eight weapons — hands, feet, elbows and knees,” he said.

“These guys are fighting what you’d call modified Thai, so knees to the body, no knees to the head and no elbows.

“Elbows and knees can be pretty sharp weapons so you need a bit of experience before throwing those around.”

Smith, 23, and Mahony, 21, have been training under Gibb for the past eight months.

Dale, 16, and James, 13, have honed their skills for the past two years.

“James is only 13.  He’s been training with me for a couple of years,” Gibb said.

“He came with his father and brother. They saw the advertisement and came in, tried it out and they loved it.

“He’s made huge progress, he’s come a long way. He’s got some natural talent, just really committed. He trains in the senior class which is a big thing for a 13-year-old.”

Gibb said safety was his top priority when preparing fighters for a competition.

“When I’m training people to compete, it’s about being well-rounded, making sure you’ve got good defence and offence,” he said.

“I never like putting anyone in the ring if I don’t think they’ll be safe. They’ve shown that they will be.

“You’ve got to have them ready. You wouldn’t put someone in a situation who isn’t ready.”

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