Tūrangi couple Tahuri and Suzanne Tibble have achieved the astonishing feat of simultaneously being the male and female Muay Thai world champions.

In February the pair competed in Thailand . Tahuri won the World Muay Thai Council Asia- Pacific pro title and Suzanne the World Boxing Council Asia female pro title. Each was a convincing win - Suzanne won with a knock-out in the first round and Tahuri won with a knock-out in the second round.

"To win in Thailand, it's daunting. It's the motherland of the sport," said Tahuri.

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Between them, the pair have a swag of belts and medals, and it isn't the first time the couple have both won individually while both competing on the world stage. In 2017 they both won gold medals at the Muay Thai world championships in Italy.

"We are self trained. We are not under a sensei, it's quite unusual." says Tahuri.

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The victory was especially sweet for him, as he spent much of 2019 rehabilitating after major surgery.

World champion in Muay Thai, Tahuri Tibble (right) kick boxing at home during lockdown with his son Shane Tibble.
World champion in Muay Thai, Tahuri Tibble (right) kick boxing at home during lockdown with his son Shane Tibble.

"I had to take the whole year off to recover. To have success then drop to rock bottom, mentally it was very difficult," says Tahuri.

For a while Tahuri suffered depression, but eventually he channelled his desire to win to get back into training. He says you have to be motivated to win a world title,

"You have to train when you are sick and on your days off.

"With the pandemic, having gone through hard times, I can understand how people are down if they lose their jobs," he says.

Winning the pro title in Thailand was phenomenal.

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"When I won was so happy, I could have jumped out of my body."

Away for six weeks for the Muay Thai tournament, the pair were lucky to board their flight back to New Zealand on March 23.

"We tried to call Thai Airways about our flight, but they didn't answer. We drove to the airport anyway and saw that our flight was still on. Most other flights were cancelled and lots of foreigners were sleeping at the airport."

Tahuri and Suzanne run Muay Thai classes in Tūrangi however they have closed the gym temporarily and are running virtual classes through Facebook. He says it's all right to have a rest at the moment and it's pretty tough to stay motivated with the lockdown.

Running Team Taniwha with Suzanne, Tahuri says he hopes their success will inspire young people in the community.

"Anyone going through hardship, young kids mixed up with the wrong people, I would like to help them," he says.