No ordinary Joe - teenager ready for British title fight at the O2

JOE Le Maire is not your ordinary teenager.

While most youngsters his age are worrying about spots, exams and homework, the 14-year-old Thai boxer is preparing to step out in front of 2,400 fans at London’s iconic 02 venue this Saturday and fight for a British title on the prestigious Xplosion show.

For Le Maire, who fights out of Bury St Edmunds’ Unit One gym, the battle is the start of a journey which he hopes will see him conquer the Muay Thai world.

“I’m feeling quite confident – but not over confident.” he said. “I’m really excited about fighting at the 02, but I’m sure I’ll be very nervous on the day. Hopefully it will be the first of many!”

The talented teenager, who already holds the Celtic Challenge belt, faces Kieran Parker from the Semtex gym in Kent for the 40kg UKMF British title.

He actually beat Parker at the recent Southern Area Championships, where he lost a close decision in the final to rival Thai Barlow, but this fight, over five two-minute rounds with slightly different rules, promises to be a sterner challenge.

The bout is the culmination of three years of training in the martial art – and Le Maire has plans to go much further in the fiercely competitive sport.

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“I love the sport,” he said. “I like the idea of fighting and making friends through it.

“I just enjoy the effort that you have to make to get a win. When I’m older I want to go for major titles – I need to get European titles before I move up and fight for the WBC and WMC world titles, which are the most prestigious in the world.”

Mum Sally, who will be travelling to the O2 with husband Richard and several supporters from Unit One, added: “I’ll be proud whatever the outcome.

“I’m nervous for him and I just hope he can do it – his fitness is right up there and I know he can win.

“He is really focused and so keen on the sport. Whenever he gets it in his head that he wants to achieve something, he does whatever it takes. It should be a great day.”

And former Muay Thai world champion Kieran Keddle, who is organising the event, at the Indigo venue inside the O2, predicts a bright future for Le Maire.

“It’s a big event for Joe,” he said. “Whenever we do a show at the O2 we have the best juniors in the country on the bill and Joe is one of them. It’s a showcase for the next bright young fighters coming through.

“This is a great way to open the show and it should be a great fight.”

– Le Maire’s fight starts at 5.15pm on Saturday. Follow @mark_heath on Twitter for updates from the O2. The young fighter is appealing for sponsorship to help him fund a training camp in Thailand. If you can help, contact coach Richard Gent at the Unit One Gym in Kempson Way, Bury St Edmunds, on 01284 760468.

- If you want to go and watch the next Xplosion Fight Series event on July 7, tickets will be available from Ticketmaster.

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