Spartan Fighting Arts Academy are celebrating two national kickboxing title triumphs.
Youngster Zach Marshall secured the World Kickboxing Associations’ 57kg Junior British title at The Point in Sunderland, while Tony Dodds landed the WKA 67kg English Kickboxing crown.
The 18-bout Sprintprint UK show produced a riveting night’s entertainment, featuring fighters from a host of clubs in kickboxing, K1 and boxing action.
The highlight of the junior card was Marshall’s clash against friend-come-rival Owen Richardson, representing Aiki Kickboxing, with the 57kg Junior British title at stake, scheduled for five two-minute rounds.
It was a hard-fought contest, brimming with skill and flair from the outset.
All the rounds were very close, with Zach reading Owen’s kicking really well but loading up a little too much with his own boxing and Owen being able to read that and enjoying the lion’s share of the boxing exchanges.
Zach, though, crucially gained a decisive lead with his thunderous kicking. Sadly, the fight had to be stopped in the fourth round, when Own sustained a neck injury. It was a no fault injury and the WKA officials decided to take it to the score card, with Zach proclaimed once again as the WKA Junior British Kickboxing champion, this time at 57kg.
Spartan’s head instructor, Paul Grieves, said: “I wish Owen all the best, a speedy recovery and hope he is back in training soon.”
The main event of the evening was Spartan Gym’s Tony Dodds going head to head with Luke Williams from Stockton’s Black Dragons, a gym with a notorious reputation for hard fighting.
The pair had met years ealier and Dodds was the victor on that occasion with a narrow points win in one of the hardest battles of his career.
Saturday’s rematch, for the 67kg English title, started like a flashback to their first bout in Cleveland, with both fighters going at it.
These exchanges included some brutal kicking and, as before, it was hard to separate the two fighters.
Both fighters are renowned for their appetite for a toe-to-toe battle and neither disappointed the raucous crowd.
Midway through the first round, Dodds started to show the slick skills he has developed over the years, slipping shots and countering, while taking less damage and a gap started to open up between the two kickboxers.
The second round continued this trend with Dodds looking even more composed, not rushing his work and moving his head while stalking his man.
Williams, too, looked more comfortable with the less torrid pace, but then, with Williams backing off just after a boxing exchange, a magnificent right leg roundhouse kick form Dodds caught him flush on the chin for a fantastic kick knockout.
Williams managed to pick himself up before the 10 count was over, but he was in no fit state to carry on and referee Billy Saul quite rightly waved it off, crowning Dodds as the new champion.
On the night overall, Grieves, said: “Everyone came fully geared up for it, every last one of them was game as a badger and the sportsmanship and respect was plain for all to see.
“I want to say well done each and every competitor for representing themselves and their clubs so well.
“The fight fans, not just from Sunderland but from all over the North East, turned out in force to make the atmosphere electric, with the fights made that much more exciting because of the noise and spark they brought to the event.”
He added: “My final thanks goes to the supporters who held a minute’s silence for young kickboxer Scott Marsden, who sadly died last week from heart failure, and for the collection for his family which has raised over £1,000.”
Junior results: Jo Jo Stewart (North East Kickboxing Academy) bt Lexi Brydon (Stockton Black Dragons)
Lincoln Howe (Spartan Fighting Arts Academy) bt Josh Jessop (North East Kickboxing Academy)
Alexis Howe (Spartan Fighting Arts Academy) bt Lilliemay Ridley (Cleveland Kickboxing)
Milner Sharp (Keui Ling Kickboxing) bt Mason Trainer (Scorpio Kickboxing)
Brandon Sayers (Spartan Fighting Arts Academy) bt Macauley Morris (Impact Martial Arts)
Olivia Appleby (East Coast Kickboxing) bt Grace Mattinson (Spartan Fighting Arts Academy)
Jake Fairless (North East Kickboxing Academy) bt Ryan Dewart (Spartan Fighting Arts Academy)
Senior results – 89kg Amateur Kickboxing: Stan Wylde (Spartan Seaham) bt Matty Regan (Scorpio Kickboxing) TKO
63kg Amateur Kickboxing: Emma Hepple (Spartan Seaham) bt Jackie Barret (Stockton Black Dragons)
64kg WC Boxing: Ryan Forth (Spartan Fighting Arts Academy) bt Pete Hymers (Millennium Martial Arts)
66kg Amateur Kickboxing: Chris Skelton (East Coast Kickboxing) bt Paul Scott (Kuei Ling Martial Arts) TKO
74kg Amateur Kickboxing: Josian Clark (North East Kickboxing Academy) bt Gary Thompson (Spartan Fighting Arts Academy) TKO
74kg Amateur Kickboxing: Anth Baldridge (J C Kickboxing) bt Steve Allen (Kuei Ling Martial Arts) 82kg Amateur K1: Lewis Stevenson (Innovation Martial Arts) bt Ryan Wilkinson (Kuei Ling Martial Arts)
85kg Amateur Kickboxing: Jared Berry (Spartan Armageddon) bt Kristof Blaszk (Tech Masters) TKO