Kawhia triplets Tokomaru, Tainui and Aotea Taylor will arrive home from the Muay Thai World Youth Championships victorious, each with at least one medal in hand.

Members of the New Zealand Black Gloves Junior Muay Thai team, the 13-year-olds competed in Bangkok, last week, where they scooped four medals in total.

Tokomaru was crowned best in the world in his weight and age category, winning gold. His siblings both placed third, claiming bronze in their respective categories.

Sister Aotea narrowly missed a spot in the final after she lost by only one point in the semis. However, she won a special second medal, a gold, for defeating Thailand's top competitor.


The trio's dad, Bevan Taylor, said seeing his children up on stage in the national stadium was "a proud moment".

"It's given all of them a boost. All that work they've put in - it all paid off."

Getting to Thailand had been a long journey for the Taylor family. Mr Taylor raised the children on his own and was closely involved in their training.

The kids had "dabbled" in the sport since they were young. Their mother was Thai and it was important to Mr Taylor they were connected to their roots.

To get to the World Youth Championship the family garnered support from their rural community and further afield.

A local charity set up a Givealittle page for the teenagers, and after the Herald reported in July that the family had only managed to raise enough to send one of the three kids to the competition, Kiwis from around New Zealand pitched in. More than 60 people donated through Givealittle, raising $8288 in total, enough to fund the trip for all three.

In preparation for the championship, the triplets trained briefly with boxer David Tua before they left New Zealand.

"David helped just get the ends sharper. A little bit of fine-tuning from someone like him was much appreciated," Mr Taylor said.

Tokomaru, Tainui and Aotea then flew to Hua Hin in southern Thailand for a final 10-day boot camp where they trained "non-stop, morning and night". Their routine included a morning run through the jungle, an abs work and then a nap, followed by workouts at a Muay Thai gym in the afternoons.

The day before the competition they took a train to Bangkok and checked into the Ambassador Hotel.

The competition was tough. Teams from more than 60 countries had entered.

But the triplets proved they had what it takes to beat the competition.

Mr Taylor told the Herald Tokomaru, Tainui and Aotea now had their sights set on an even bigger prize - competing in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

"I believe at least one of them will take out the Olympics."

The first step to get there would be qualifying for next year's World Games in Ireland, which Mr Taylor called a "prerequisite" to the Olympics.

But before returning to New Zealand to train, the triplets were in for one more adventure. Today they travelled north of Bangkok with their father to meet their maternal great grandfather, who was in his 90s.