Turner and Le Maire claim titles

BURY St Edmunds-based Thai-boxing gym Unit 1 is celebrating a fantastic final quarter of 2011 which saw two talented young fighters claim titles and two seniors excel in their professional debuts.

Outstanding youngsters Hannah Turner and Joe Le Maire led the way for the gym, in Kempson Way, with 12-year-old Turner scoring three straight victories to close the year.

First she beat previous conqueror Jodie Roberts, 15, on points after stepping at late notice for a fight in Farnworth in October.

From there it was on to the prestigious Celtic Challenge event in Barnsley, where Turner faced Irish number one, Beth Barrett, at 54kg.

In a relentless battle, the Bury fighter’s heavy kicks and knees proved the difference, and she duly lifted the Celtic Challenge title.

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And she finished her year at the Ocean Rooms in Gorleston on Sunday, where she took on Jade Munro of the K9 Gym in Gt Yarmouth.

A former world kickboxing champion, Commonwealth Thai-boxing titlist and ABA national boxing champion, Munro also had a two-year age advantage.

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But it mattered little, as Turner’s kicks and work from range saw her claim a unanimous points victory and finish the year on a high.

Her training partner Le Maire, 14, also lifted a Celtic Challenge title in Barnsley, which he will defend in February.

The all-action teenager, a pupil at KEGS in Bury, outclassed foe Paddy Sharkey to claim the 38kg belt.

The victory came just weeks after Le Maire narrowly missed out on the British title in Farnworth, dropping a razor-slim decision to the highly-regarded TJ Everett of the Eclipse Gym in Scotland.

Two more talented juniors, Adam Heatrick, 8, and Travis Beaton, 10, both fought for the first time on the Barnsley card and impressed with their skills, although both lost points decisions.

Finally, adults Brandon Parks and Adam Prescott both made their pro debuts in Barnsley.

US serviceman Parks, fighting at 90kg, battled the more experienced Jack Bell of Mandela Muay Thai. And he won the first three rounds with a combination of powerful knees, jabs and low kicks, before fatigue set in.

A vicious punch from Bell forced a standing eight count in the fourth, and the referee stopped the fight after Parks absorbed further punishment. Nevertheless, Parks will return to America in 2012 having realised his dream of having a pro fight.

Adam Prescott also made his bow on the card and dominated Syd Pearson of the MFA Gym at 59kg.

The powerful Bury fighter opened up in the second round, forcing his opponent to take a standing count after several explosive blows.

Pearson lasted the full five rounds but never threatened Prescott, who will look to return to the ring in the New Year.

n Anyone interested in learning Thai-boxing can find further information at www.unit1gym.com or call 01284 760468.

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