Whanganui fighters will defend their turf next month at Night of Assassins 7.
The card at Springvale Stadium is headlined by Whanganui’s Earl-Jay Pehi, who will take on Kurt Douglas in a rematch from last year’s event.
Event organiser, Assassins Muay Thai’s Kyle Gallacher, said the pair’s encounter was the fight of the night in 2022 and it would be “a guaranteed banger” this time around.
“We also have Jake Hood fighting for the [national] heavyweight Kyokushin karate title and Brian Alderton – a really aggressive, high-paced fighter – will be fighting Muay Thai rules.
“There is a whole team from Assassins Muay Thai and a whole team from Awa Kings (both Whanganui) facing people from out of town.
“It’s a bit of a ‘Whanganui v everyone else’ kind of vibe.”
Pehi and Douglas will clash in a K1 (kickboxing) superheavyweight bout.
Muay Thai uses elbows, knees, kicks and punches, while kickboxing involves punches and kicks only.
Gallacher was meant to fight Douglas but had to withdraw after suffering a pinched nerve in his neck.
It would have been his first fight in a decade.
“It’s not how I wanted the journey to go but I trust the timing of it, I trust my intuition.
“My plan is to just heal up, keep training and see what’s on the menu for next year.”
Fight camp had gone well and he was training hard twice a day, he said.
“I can honestly say I was in the best shape of my life.
“Things just didn’t come into alignment this time. Obviously, the neck is a dangerous place to have an injury.”
Gallacher, the head coach at Assassins, said putting himself through training refreshed his memory about the dedication required.
It could be emotionally and mentally draining.
“It’s a very intense endeavour to take on and unless you’ve done it yourself, you can’t understand it. You sacrifice all the other things in life for it. You have to be all in.
“I have a revitalised respect for fighters who walk that path and get in there.”
Awa Kings and Assassins both had young fighters coming through their ranks, he said.
“There is a new generation out there and the gyms are really consistent in showing up and running classes.
“It’s a beautiful thing to be able to pass the skills and knowledge on, and to have a platform for them to compete on in front of their hometown and their family.”
Night of the Assassins 7 is on Saturday, December 2, at Springvale Stadium. It begins at 5pm.
Mike Tweed is an assistant news director and multimedia journalist at the Whanganui Chronicle. Since starting in March 2020, he has dabbled in everything from sport to music. At present his focus is local government, primarily the Whanganui District Council.