Today was semi-finals for IFMA muaythai at The World Games 2017 and everyone certainly brought attitude and determination with champions battling it out in two rings all afternoon.
This was the final chance to make it the first ever muaythai final at The World Games.
One of the stand-out bouts was between 19 year old Peruvian Gabriel Mazzetti and 3-time World Champion Suppachai Superbon Meunsang from Thailand. Gabriel’s trainer said before the bout he had nothing to lose as he was the underdog and he was going to give it his all – and he certainly did.
Both athletes are strong all-rounders with Gabriel forcing the pace with body-punches and powerful upper-body kicks. You could hear the knees landing if you were lucky enough to sit ringside.
In the women’s division, there was a battle royal between Sofia Olofsson and another Peruvian Tristana Tola which went Sofia’s way – meaning the Swede is now on track to add The World Games to her IFMA World title at 54kg.
Pan-American champion Troy Jones flew the flag bravely in the 75kg division against World Champion Vital Hurkou in a powerful bout. Hurkou pulled out some fancy elbow strikes and really bore down with his hand combinations. Jones took two 8-counts but came back fighting all the way to the end of a thrilling 3-rounds.
However Hurkou wasn’t letting this go and took the win.
In the 60kg women’s many expected to see Israel’s Nili Block in the final as she is two-time world champion, but you never know in muaythai. And today Russia’s Svetlana Vinnikova pulled off a great result, winning with long-range knee strikes and somehow neutralizing Nili’s power to take a points win.
For the Wroclaw crowd the best came at the end with Poland’s 91kg Luckaz Radosz winning in an all-out war with Jakub Klauda from the Czech Republic.
It was 19-all going into the 3rd and final round and you could not hear anything except the crowd chanting. Both athletes were evenly matched firing in leg-kicks and closing in for the clinch, but in the end Luckaz pulled it off.
Sitting in his chair afterward Luckaz could barely stand up for a photograph, everything left behind in the ring. Maybe it was knowing that his girlfriend Natalia Leciejewska – who herself competed here yesterday in muaythai – was watching that spurred him on!
So now to the final 11 bouts for gold and silver tomorrow, with the fight-off for bronze taking place in the morning.
This is the day muaythai has been building towards for many years, and now these athletes have the chance to shine on the world stage and take the first muaythai gold medals ever given out at The World Games.