Young fighters thrill at ground-breaking Suffolk show
PUBLISHED: 13:20 10 May 2018 | UPDATED: 13:50 10 May 2018
Some fighting stars of the future showed their skills in the ring at a ground-breaking show in Suffolk.
Unit 1 Gym in Bury St Edmunds hosted a Muay Thai Fight League (MFL) event last week, with 11 bouts on the 34-fight card contested under amateur full Thai rules.
That is the rule set under which fighters will eventually compete when the martial art reaches the Olympics, having been accepted recently as a demonstration sport.
Yet it is rare for fighters in the UK to do battle under those regulations, which sees combatants trade punches, kicks, elbows and knees while sporting headguards, gloves, and shin and elbow pads.
Richard Gent, owner of Unit 1 Gym, said 21 gyms from around the country sent fighters to compete.
“It was a big, big success,” he explained. “It’s the first time in a while that anyone has done a proper full Thai rules amateur show in the country.
“I did a couple of pro shows back in 2012 and people were always asking me when I’d do another so, with the support of Steve Gladstone from Semetx Gym, who founded MFL, we decided to go for it!”
Three Unit 1 fighters excelled on the night – Tamzin Raison, Lottie King and Jake Nichols all picking up wins.
And Gent singled out Raison, 16, as a future star.
“She’s really, really skilled and works harder than pretty much anyone in the gym,” he explained. “She struggles with confidence and was very disappointed after her last fight for not performing.
“But this time around she fought very cleverly and patiently, picking her more experienced opponent off really well and outclassing her. It was a really good win, and her confidence will build every time she gets a win like that.”
Gent added: “I’m not sure at what stage Muay Thai will get into the Olympics, but for youngsters like Tamzin and Lottie – and kids younger than that – it’s potentially something they will be able to aim for.
“We want to make sure that we are ready if and when it happens, and are used to the ruleset.
“What I’d really like to do now is get together with other gyms and promoters, look at the 2019 diary and get two or three events scheduled in here and others across the region and country so fighters can compete every five or six weeks and build up experience.”