Muay Thai: Bay fighters to take on world's best

By Shane Hurndell

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Cody Thomson, right, during a training session with Luke Meredith for the Muay Thai World Championships. Photo/Glenn Taylor
Cody Thomson, right, during a training session with Luke Meredith for the Muay Thai World Championships. Photo/Glenn Taylor

Should Hawke's Bay Muay Thai fighter Cody Thomson find his first taste of international competition a little daunting, a perfect remedy will be on tap.

His father and trainer, Scotty Thomson, has had a 30-year involvement in the martial art. If his son gets a bout of the nerves as the countdown to the May 1-10 world championships at Langkawi Island, Malaysia begins, Thomson snr will be able to tell the 14-year-old Napier Boys' High School year 10 student he isn't alone.

Officials at the 110-country event are likely to be on edge also as this will be the final opportunity for them to get the thumbs up from a selection committee for Olympic Games inclusion. It won't just be the tropical island heat getting to competitors and officials.

"That heat is one of the reasons we're going early ... so we will have plenty of time to acclimatise," Thomson, the only Hawke's Bay junior in the 31-strong Kiwi team, said, referring to the fact the New Zealand team leaves on Saturday.

An under-57kg class fighter, Thomson has had five fights (four wins and a loss) during the seven years he has represented the Highlanders Fight Club. Despite this inexperience, he is aiming high in the gruelling knockout event.

"Gold is the goal," Thomson said as the sweat poured off him after another of his daily two hour training sessions at the Training Grounds Gym in Napier.

"Knees and kicks are my strengths," Thomson said. "Hopefully the experience I gain at the champs will help me win national titles in the future. I don't do any other sports ... I'm in Muay Thai for the long haul."

A fan of Thai welterweight fighter, Buakaw Banchamek, Thomson has had to keep a strict eye on his weight in recent weeks but he is on target.

With his father one of five coaches in the Kiwi travelling party of 50, and fellow Bay fighter Luke Meredith of the Wairoa Thai Boxing Gym in the team, Thomson won't be short of familiar faces. Meredith will fight in the 86kg cruiserweight class.

After the world championships the Kiwi team will fight in some Bangkok-hosted tournaments before returning home.

Thomson snr said with each of the 110 countries allowed a maximum of 120 fighters it will be the biggest world championships.

Meredith, 23, has had five wins from knockouts.

While Thomson got selected for the New Zealand team through a trial process, Meredith caught the eyes of national selectors when he beat the favourite in his class at an eliminator knockout tournament in Auckland last year.

A Suvic engineering apprentice, Meredith, sees the world championships as an opportunity to gauge his ability against superior fighters from elite countries.

"The Europeans are at another level so it's a good benchmark to find out how good I am."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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