Harry chats with Ricky Esilva

Nelson kickboxer Ricky Esilva set to challenge Fou Ah-Lam at Turf Wars 8 on October 19th in Auckland for the WKBF New Zealand full Thai rules professional heavyweight title. New Zealand Fighter caught up with Esilva to ask him about his fighting career.

Ricky Esilva is a fighter who started young; making his kickboxing debut at the age of 15 after only 8 weeks of training and since then competing in a total of 22 fights by the age of 21. With 18 wins under his belt, his 4 losses only came to elite competition in New Zealand and Australia.

Esilva comes from a family with a strong sporting background who emigrated to New Zealand from South Africa in 2010. His family have been strong in their support of his fighting career. "(I'm thankful for) my family, my close group of friends, and the sport of MuayThai; it kept me out of trouble when I was younger and gave me a chance to make something of myself in the world rather than being your average person".

Esilva fights out of Maui Muay Thai gym in Nelson under former Lee Gar fighter turned coach Suds Karki. The small fight gym has grown in recent years with fight sports becoming more mainstream in New Zealand, now with a considerable stable of regular trainers and fighters.

This past August, Esilva fought former King in the Ring heavyweight competitor Navajo Stirling, earning a split decision victory which saw him capture the WKA New Zealand heavyweight championship.

When asked about his last NZ title bout, Esilva stated: "He was definitely a bit tougher than what I had expected... it was a very close fight... We knew that he liked to fight long and once he found a rhythm he would be very good, so we tried to either be in close or stay out of range".

Esilva's previous accomplishments in the sport include attaining several South Island titles, yet this last fight was his first New Zealand title. He hopes to leave an imprint upon the sport which has become his life. "I want to be known as one of the greats. I want to have left a name and a legacy behind when I retire. I want to influence people to love the sport and to learn its humbling effects".

Esilva has a list of fighters whose characteristics he has taken inspiration from, including the accuracy and evasiveness of Anderson Silva and the heart of Mike Zambidis. "Ernesto Hoost's low kicks and style are what I have always looked up to and studied".

In order to be at his absolute best on October 19th, Esilva is back on the Gold Coast for this training camp at Boonchu Gym under head coach and famed MuayThai veteran John Wayne Parr. Esilva carried out his last training camp at Boonchu in preparation for his August title fight and has nothing but respect for Parr and his camp.

"The humbleness of John Wayne Parr after everything he has achieved and done for the sport is a mindset that can't be taught but is one to admire. (Boonchu training partner) Benny Mahoney's mentality with regard to training and fighting is something I aspire to."

Esilva's upcoming title fight is set to be his toughest challenge yet. Fou Ah-Lam is a ferocious and powerful striker, fighting out of the famed Elite Thai Kickboxing gym in Auckland. Training alongside world-class fighters, Ah-Lam is an experienced veteran who Esilva knows will require an epic performance to defeat.

"I can tell you it will be a very good fight to watch as we are both hungry and trying to pursue our dreams".

If you're in Auckland on October 19th, be sure to head down to Urban Sport Gym in Birkenhead to see Esilva vs Ah-Lam along with the rest of the stacked fight card of Turf Wars 8. To follow Ricky Esilva head to his Facebook page or his Instagram.

Written by Harry Greenfield

Harry Greenfield is New Zealand Fighter’s Executive Editor. Residing in Christchurch, he has a passion for combat sports, especially MMA, and is our man on the scene down south.

Promoters wishing to contact Harry can reach him at: harry@nzfighter.co.nz