When a team travels to any tournament, the hope is to have everyone come home with some sort of award.
And the ratio of medals to athletes when it comes to Stanley Boxing and Fitness’ kickboxing team was nearly 1:1 after a trip to Ontario last weekend.
Seven of the club’s athletes were in Niagara Falls for the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) Canada National Kickboxing Championships from June 3 to 5, and almost all of them hit the podium in some fashion. Six of those fighters shared four silver and two bronze medals, which pleased head coach John Stanley.
“They were all in tough because for a lot of them, this was their first major tournament,” he said.
The exception was Gopi Rajkumar, who was back in action after returning from his home in India last month to compete in the Tamil Nadu WAKO Championships, where he captured the 75-kg low-kick title. In Niagara Falls, he ended up with a bronze medal in the same division.
Stanley said the competition in Ontario was a bit stiffer, but Rajkumar held his own.
“The big problem was the travel back home and he was still suffering from the jetlag,” the coach said. “That affected him and he didn’t do as well as he would have wanted but he knows what led to it.”
Fighter Liam Kincaid ended up with a bronze medal in a division the 11-year-old wasn’t even supposed to be in: 40-kg K1, a full-contact division.
“There was a mix-up in the draw and Liam wasn’t supposed to do full-contact,” said Stanley. “I left it up to him on whether he wanted to do it because it threw him off a bit but he went ahead and did amazing. He has everything you want in a fighter: great listener, very coachable and he fit the mould.”
Emmett Kincaid, Liam’s younger brother, was in the 40-kg Kick Light division and ended up with a silver medal in a division that was more varied than some of the others, said Stanley.
“The kid he ended up fighting was bigger and older,” he said. “Emmett’s only eight (years old) and the other kid was 10 but it was good for him to experience that and it was a really competitive fight.”
Graham Diveky and Zain Alhomosh were two other silver medallists from the club; Diveky was in the male 91-kg K1 class while Alhomosh fought in the female 67-kg K1 category. Amina Idris Ahmed fought in the female 52-kg K1 division and earned a silver medal.
“Both Graham and Zain lost on decisions, really close fights for both of them,” said Stanley. “They were in their first big competition and it was a big jump for them but getting that experience was important.”
The only fighter who didn’t medal was Scott Thomson, who was disqualified from the men’s 75-kg Kick Light division.
The reason? Being too aggressive.
“Scott hit his opponent with a couple of heavy shots and he couldn’t handle them,” said Stanley. “We told the organizers to put Scott in full contact and he wasn’t put in there and so he ended up getting DQ’ed. It sucks.”
Before making the trip to Ontario, Stanley said he was worried about how his new fighters would take to the atmosphere of a national championship but they handled it as well as they could have.
“There were over 500 fighters there and nerves were a huge factor going in,” he said. “We had no chance to test them here at the club before going out and that may have affected them a bit but they learned a lot and they know how to manage the pressure better now.”