The IFMA rings in Minsk played host to a special bout this week during the IFMA Championships when the mascots for The World Games took centre stage.
Both Hansel and Gretel have been getting to know the athletes and learning about our sport. Thai athlete Rathchadaphon Wihantamma took them to the Warm-Up Area to learn some stretches.
And champions from host nation Belarus – Dmitry Valent and Vital Hurkou – took them for a lesson (which we filmed), as did athletes from America so they learn a range of styles.
On the morning of the Finals, the energetic pair wanted to pull on their own specially-made (tiny but we don’t say that word around them) gloves. They did some gentle sparring during the European Championships and the World Cup.
Gretel was especially excited; she said: ‘I’ve been practicing a lot! Erin told me I have great power in my right-kicks and I should try to use that. She showed me how to kick and make my leg really long, it’s called a roundhouse kick. I don’t think Hansel is ready for me!’
Hansel was getting ready on the corner-stool, and he looked a bit worried at this. He asked if we could find a referee. Luckily Gunther from Austria was free, as was Michael from Canada. One of the Thai orchestras played the traditional song which always accompanies muaythai.
‘That’s better, there’s lots of rules in muaythai you know, it’s always better to have a referee,‘ Hansel said.
Gretel has really improved, her footwork is very good and she even doing some elbow moves. Very technical. Hansel has also clearly been practicing, his knees were more accurate.
Suddenly Gretel raised her leg and swung in a beautiful arc towards Hansel’s torso. Boom! Over he went.
Poor Hansel, completely winded. He had to lie down until his breathing returned to normal. But he’s a good sport really and he soon stood up and shook Gretel’s hand.
‘Well done, that was a good shot. Maybe we’ll just watch for the rest of the day,’ he said. Gretel patted him on the shoulder and said: ‘Thank you! And the really fun thing is we’ve made so many new friends, we can all hang out together in Wroclaw soon.’
They said “Hello!” to the Polish team too, Poland of course is bringing a full team to The World Games.
And then they went to watch the Finals with Gunther so he could explain some more rules to them. Hansel and Gretel thoroughly enjoyed the action packed fights, the electrifying atmosphere and their last leg of their journey before heading back to Wroclaw to get ready for the 2-17 World Games under patronage of the IOC in which muaythai is a full medal sport.