By JO-MARIE BROWN
A New Zealander's fight to become a world champion kickboxer has turned into an international scrap after her wrongfully crowned opponent refused to hand over the prize.
Louise O'Donnell fought British woman Janine "The Machine" Davis for the Muay Thai World Kickboxing Champion title in England last August.
She believed she had won but after five rounds two of the three judges declared the match a draw.
A check of the rule book showed a draw could not occur in a world title fight so the marks from all three judges were tallied and Davis was awarded the title by one point.
"I was just stunned. I couldn't believe it," O'Donnell said. "I knew in my heart that I had won."
Other kickboxers who saw the fight agreed, including Davis' own trainer, who told the Sydney-based New Zealander that he thought she was the rightful winner.
O'Donnell's camp lodged a formal complaint with the World Professional Kickboxing League. Three international judges watched a video of the fight and overturned the original decision.
The 34-year-old was over the moon when told she was the new world champion but the victory quickly soured when her British rival refused to hand over the title belt.
"She's not the world champion, I am," said O'Donnell. "She has no right to that belt whatsoever. It's just so unsporting."
O'Donnell has been kickboxing for 6 1/2 years, after joining a gym and taking some classes to improve her fitness. She is now a fully qualified black-belt instructor but the August fight was always going to be her last. "The plan was to win a world title and retire a champion."
O'Donnell heard last week that a belt is on the way to Mt Maunganui, where she is holidaying with her parents.
She is looking forward to throwing a long-overdue victory party - as a true world champion.
By JO-MARIE BROWN