Phillip Lam's Lee Gar Still Ringmasters After 35 Years
A flurry of kicks, a punch or two, and then move. Dancing around the ring, out of reach of the heavyweight fists that "Notorious" Antz Nansen was storing up for a knockout, Saulaimaine Konate kept the ring busy until the end. The main event fight grew, budded, and then blossomed in an furious fistic combination by Nansen, or Konate. But the evasive tactics of the Frenchman gained him the unanimous decision in Phillip Lam's latest Thai Boxing outing.
It wasn't just about the fighters who had gained access to the ring though - and they had come from as far away as Australia, France and the Deep South of the South Island to lay it on the line. It was also about some recognition for the 35 years of hard work and solid reputation that "Sifu" Phillip Lam had built around the creation of this country's oldest Muay Thai gym.
A reputation that was upheld in full, as the horns wailed and the fighters fought with refined savagery. Fourteen trained professional athletes gave their guts for the glory, and were supported by the fierce stylings of three amateur bouts that did justice to an ancient tradition that has been kept alive since "Sifu" ventured onto these shores.
In keeping with the celebratory atmosphere, and the maintaining of tradition, Mike Angove returned to the blood-stained blue square to relive old times with Hiriwa "T-Man" Te Rangi. It was 1999, and both fighters were younger and fresher back then, but come Saturday the fight was still in them, and they let it loose on each other. In the end it was Mike Angove who once again cut a unanimous decision from "T-Man's" courageous hide, and hung it on his personal wall of fame - not to mention the wall reserved for the WMC NZ Heavyweight title.
Prior to this historic match-up though, was a fight that could be called the "Fight of the Night". Five three minute rounds at the ASB Stadium brought a new fighter to light: Nato Lauuli. Staring down and elbowing world champion Thai Boxer Jan Antolik with abandon, the newcomer to the scene (Lauuli) made an impression on everyone in his vicinity - even Antolik, who won the fight unanimously but stepped back through the ropes with a healthy serving of respect for the fighter.
Another fighter who kept limbs flying, and landing, was Joe Hopkins in his debut professional bout against rough and ready Mike "300" Demetriou. Whatever the reference, possibly the movie featuring Spartan warriors, Demetriou was obviously no stranger to 'strategic destruction of your opponent'; but it looked like he had met his match in Hopkins. The Auckland-based fighter looked rougher, readier, and equally skilled - not to mention overburdened with more than his share of heart. Hopkins never flinched, never wavered, and never once looked like he would lose a fight that was slated to be a testing of his professional Muay Thai skills. Irregardless, he passed the test, and can rumble with the best - as well as sling some damaging kicks.
Speaking of damaging kicks and no-holds-barred pummeling, the women were representing their respective countries as well: Australia vs New Zealand. Mean-fisted, full-o-beans Bronwyn Wylie taught her Australian rival, Nicole Brolan a thing or two about pressure, before succumbing to a superior knee technique that didn't meet with enough resistance. Brolan took the unanimous decision in spite of Wylie's energetic ability.
Women, men, amateur or professional, Phillip Lam Promotions and his steel-solid Lee Gar fighters look like the business when they're doing the business of winning. Australia, France, UK or the Kingdom of Thailand, it's hard to beat a good fighter on a good day - especially a NZ fighter with the world at their feet.
Brandan Ra'Ta (City Lee Gar) WON by unanimous decision VS Oneal Wiperi (SMAC)
Robert Chamberlain (Rebel Lee Gar) WON by TKO-R1 VS Jimmy Moorehouse (Roundhouse KB)
Billy Allport (City Lee Gar) WON by unanimous decision VS Tipene Boyd (Ngakaunui Thai Kickboxing Club)
Professional Bout - Full Thai Rules
Jan Antolik (City Lee Gar) WON by unanimous decision VS Nato Laauli - Alpha
NZ WMC Heavyweight Title
Mike Angove (City Kickboxing) WON by unanimous decision VS Hiriwa Te Rangi (TeRangi fight club)
Nicole Brolan (Australia) WON by unanimous decision vs Bronwyn Wylie (ETK/NZ)
Slava Alexeichik (City Lee Gar) WON by KO-R1 vs Christian Balzer (Australia)
Daniel Smyrk (Australia) WON by unanimous decision vs Shannan Daniel Foreman (NZ)
Michael '300' Demetriou (Australia) WON by unanimous decision vs Joe Hopkins (City Lee Gar/NZ)
Saulaimaine Konate (France, City Kickboxing) WON by unanimous decision vs Antz Nansen (ETK/NZ)