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October 28, 2009

US Team at WKA Worlds in Spain - News!

MMA is to debut at the largest amateur World Championships this year in Huelva, Spain. Bringing their best to the competition, five fighters on the US National Ring Sports Team will join six Thai fighters for the 17th World Kickboxing Association (WKA) Amateur World Championships. This year, the Ring Sports of MMA, Thai Boxing, Kickboxing, Full Contact, and Knockdown fighting will join the Mat Sports in a joint competition that can boast 2,000 competitors from over fifty countries.

Held at the beautiful Barcelo Punta beach resort in PuntaUmbria, US fighters arrived on Monday, October 26th from their various locations in the States. Several team members had to catch alternate flights, rent cars, and even hitchhike due to mechanical airline problems and airline strikes, showing their dedication to be at a competition of this magnitude whatever the cost or inconvenience. All US fighters made their respective weights early on Tuesday the 27th and later that afternoon, came together for the first official team practice and photo shoot, showing off their new sponsors’ gear, generously donated by FIGHTER’S INC., CLINCHGEAR, and KOBC. Coaches Brian Crenshaw, Eric Haycraft, and Frank Camacho ran the team through warm-ups, Thai pad work, Dutch-style training, and clinchwork, as well as takedowns and grappling. The US fighters Steven Dang (Thai Boxing, -65 kg), Lindsay Scheer (K-1, -60 kg), Aisha Thomas (K-1 +65 kg), Gary LaBreck (MMA -85 kg), Michael Goodman (MMA -70 kg), Eric Heegaard (MMA -75 kg), Lindsey MacMhaolain (K-1, -55 kg), Christopher Kwiatkowski (Thai Boxing, -65 kg), Chris Lujan (MMA, -65 kg), Jeff Blachly (MMA, +90 kg), and Scott Sawade (Thai Boxing, -60 kg) seemed little affected by the travel and jet lag and all fighters looked sharp and well-prepared for the upcoming event. After an hour and a half of training, fighters seemed more than anxious to continue working, brimming with excitement at the prospect of the upcoming bouts, causing coaches to call an end to the practice to prevent over-exertion so close to the competition’s start.

Team training will take place in the morning on Wednesday while WKA officials will be involved in judges’ and referees’ training and certification seminars. US officials will be leading the newest WKA Ring Sport, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). The WKA, which began in the 1980s in the United States before migrating to Europe, is now looking back to the US for assistance in bringing the sport of MMA more to the highest level for amateur athletes worldwide. This training seminar and competition will serve as a catalyst for each country that already has MMA to refine its rules and officials and, for those countries not yet doing MMA, to be exposed to it so that their officials can bring back their experience of MMA to their home countries.

Later Wednesday evening, the opening ceremony with the parade of nations, similar to what is seen at the beginning of the Olympics, will commence. The WKA presidents of each country will join together that day as well in order to discuss any rule changes and developments for the next year, as well as to do the drawing for the fighters’ placement in their brackets in this tournament-style event.

Elimination rounds will begin on Friday and will continue through to the finals on Monday, November 2nd. Ring Sports fighters will vie for the championship in a single-elimination tournament, which will run to the quarter-finals on the first day of competitions, semi-finals on the second day, and finals on the third day. Fighters can expect to fight in as many as six bouts over the course of the competition, depending on the number of fighters in their division. US fighters are more than used to this type of competition, as they qualified for their place on the WKA US National Team by their medaling at the WKA North American Combat Sports Championships, also a single-elimination tournament-style event, earlier this year at the end of June. The WKA US National team members, in partnership with its sponsors, FIGHTER’S INC., CLINCHGEAR, and KOBC, seem more than up for the challenge of representing the United States in this world level competition.


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