From Te Puke to ... the world.

Stupid Robot Fighting League - the brainchild of Te Puke's John Espin - will next week play out to a massive audience when ESPN2 becomes, for 24 hours, a showcase for the weird and wonderful in competitive pursuits called The Ocho.

Te Puke Times showcased John and his fighting stupid robots in January 2017 - speculating at the time that it could become as big as UFC, WWE or Mortal Kombat. Little did we know that two and a half years later, his invention would feature on one of America's biggest sports channels.

On August 7, for the third year in a row ESPN2 in the US will become The Ocho for 24 hours - a nod to a fake ESPN channel featured in the Dodgeball movie - to highlight some of the world's more obscure sports.


Among them will be Stupid Robot Fighting League - brawls that pit two life-sized puppets that look like robots against one another. The puppets hang in a frame and they are controlled by combatants pushing and pulling on poles attached to the robots' hands and feet as they fight.

John says he is entirely comfortable sitting alongside the other left-field sports that will feature.

''It's very much right at home there - they're not run of the mill sports and neither is mine and that's the theme of the 24 hours,'' he says.

John was approached by ESPN to provide them with a half hour show of his unique take on combat sports and robotics.

"We organised an awesome international competition especially for ESPN where eight people from eight different countries designed their own Stupid Robot.

''Primarily I made them and they chose the parts and we went through the process together - that's how I get people from different countries involved even though they can't be here.''

The fights were filmed at Tauranga Armageddon in June.

"Stuff got wrecked and parts flew off and one Stupid Robot reigned supreme ... It's a thing of beauty.


''But man, it was a very steep learning process. I brought in a professional editor and I was allowed to bring in internal sponsorship for the video - that was cool.''

Stupid Robot Fighting League inventor John Espin.
Stupid Robot Fighting League inventor John Espin.

Stupid Robot Fighting League has its own YouTube channel and John and his invention have featured on TV One News, Seven Sharp and The Crowd Goes Wild in New Zealand.

''Normally for a YouTube channel, you have a five year life cycle before things start taking off and the thing about Stupid Robot Fighting is it's quite difficult to understand what it is until you actually see it working.

''So I've always been expecting quite slow growth until it gets itself legitimised, but this is quite a leapfrog over quite a bit of that - you don't get on an international sports show very often.

''I have no idea what happens from here - if we can get on ESPN, then other doors should in theory be able to be opened and more opportunities open up.

''Not bad for a car port invention, eh?''

Other sports to be featured on The Ocho:
■ Acrobatic Pizza Trials featuring freestyle acrobatics, largest dough stretch, fastest box folder.
■ Cherry Pit Spitting - who can spit a cherry pit the furthest?
■ Sign Spinning judged on style, execution and technical sign spinning ability.
■ Stone Skipping.
■ Chess Boxing.