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Local blackgloves going global

Three local Muay Thai boxers will take on the world at a major combat sports competition, that started this week in Thailand.

Sarah Linton, Te Neale Haereroa, and Zair Hussain from Featherston’s SMAC gym will represent the New Zealand Blackgloves team at the International Federation of Muaythai Associations [IFMA] Senior World Championships in Bangkok.

The competition attracts over 3000 competitors from more than 100 countries over 10 days of competition.

“It’s going to be hot, it’s going to be intense”, the trio’s coach and former Blackglove, Tori Parr said.

“This [competition] is definitely the pinnacle, it’s a big deal. They will learn so much from being exposed to that calibre of fighting.”

Carterton-based Linton, who had her first competitive fight in December 2020, said she was excited and nervous about the experience.

“I’m excited just to go over there and even the training’s going to be really, really good.

“I’m nervous because I’ve never done anything like that before. But it’ll be a cool experience either way”.

“Cool” might be the wrong word to describe what awaits the Blackgloves in Bangkok.

“It’s about 37 degrees there. We’ll be running and training in the heat. The fights are air-conditioned though, so that’s
a bonus,” Linton said.

Training with local coaches will take place in the first few days of their trip.

The Blackgloves have a long-standing relationship with the Thai combat sports community they can draw on.

“The New Zealand team probably has been going to the same gym for the last 20 years. It won’t be so much of a culture shock to them. They’ve got
connections there,” Parr said.

Each member of the team has raised thousands of dollars to travel, train and compete at the championships.

This included holding a quiz night at the Offering in Greytown and an open sparring event in Wellington, which raised enough to cover the athlete’s pre-tournament accommodation and training.

The 2023 IFMA Senior World Championships will be held from May 3-13.

Matches can be viewed live from the IFMA YouTube channel, or from the SMAC Featherston Facebook page.

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