TWELVE members of Sunderland-based Spartan Fighting Arts Academy are heading to Switzerland to compete in this weekend’s World Martial Arts Games.
Paul Grieves, chief instructor at the Hylton Castle club, is among the Great Britain coaches for the World United Martial Arts (WUMA) World Championships, which have been incorporated into the Games, a massive tournament of all combat styles, for the first time.
And he has high hopes for Dean Petty, Spartan’s amateur team captain in Geneva.
Grieves said: “Having won several North East and British titles, Dean secured the Golden Belt Commonwealth title earlier this year and with now 49 fights under his belt, it probably won’t be too long before he begins fighting professionally.
“But before that happens, I felt Dean should go for the ultimate amateur accolade, a world title.
“What better way to do it then at the WUMA World Championships.
“As a WUMA GB team coach, I have also selected some more of our very own fighters to take along as part of the national squad. We have a Spartan contingent of seven juniors and five adults, who will travel down to Heathrow tomorrow morning to meet up with the rest of Team GB.
“From there we fly on to Geneva and settle into the hotel ready for the two-day tournament which will commence on Saturday.
“Our fighters will take part in various fighting formats, such as semi-contact point fighting, light contact kickboxing, full contact kickboxing, K1 and Olympic rules boxing.
“Our junior team players are all relatively inexperienced, having trained for under three years but they are regular competitors and they just keep on bucking the odds.
“Earlier this year, I took them to the Junior British Full Contact Championships, just for a try out.
“Going up against the country’s very best junior kickboxers, I was honest with the kids, telling them how tough it would be and that it would all just be a good experience but none of them were fazed in the least and we ended up coming away with a load of medals and two new Junior British champions.
“You just can’t write them off. To top that, they’ve been in the gym five or six times a week in the run-up to this and I have never seen them look better.
“I drafted in some help from Kuei Ling’s Phil Smith to coach them in points fighting and Phil has been superb with them and the time he has invested in our junior team has made a huge difference.
“Newcomer Cal Hewitt has been with us under a year, but he arrived as a natural heavyweight with genuine athleticism and a natural ability for the sport.
“He has very quickly notched up five straight wins, all by knockout, with nobody managing to take him two full rounds.
“Darren McMahon is an experienced amateur with a winning attitude – very tall, very flexible and with the skill to back it up.
“We are also joined by his younger brother, Kaylum McMahon, who shares the family traits of long reach and flexibility and is also an utter natural at the sport and very tough.
“Finally, we have Allan Davis, a work horse with a work-rate second only to team captain Dean Petty. Allan simply loves a fight and whoever they put in front of him will be in for a real war.”
The trip to Geneva is costing Spartan’s team £11,500, and Grieves added: “We would like to say a massive thank you to all the people who have worked tirelessly on fund-raising for this venture and to our main sponsors, ServerAid, who simply made this trip possible. We genuinely could not have sent our team out without their backing.”