Kickboxers get the chance to shine
Nato La’auli knows all about having the big-match temperament, and he wants to pass his experience on to the next group of fighters coming through.
The muay thai kickboxer and mainstay of Rex Redden’s gym in the old Porirua Hospital grounds has been spending plenty of his own time and money organising the next fight night.
It takes place this Saturday, with doors opening at 5.30pm.
There will be 11 fights on the card, with varying ages and weight classes represented.
La’auli, who holds two New Zealand titles and is gunning for a third in Napier next month, will not be taking to the ring himself, but says it is important the young fighters get exposure to this type of atmosphere.
‘‘There will be lots of people; they’ll be nervous but they’ve trained hard and it’s about testing yourself,’’ La’auli says.
‘‘Training three times a week is all well and good but they need to come up against guys that have trained hard and are mentally ready too. Everyone’s really looking forward to it.’’
Although most fighters in the event are from Porirua, there will be kickboxers from Wairarapa, Wellington and even Whakatane.
‘‘It’s going to be a great show. There will be a lot of skill out there and it’s something different for people to see. Muay thai is not just about taking someone’s head off; you have to outpoint your opponent and use kicks, punches, knees and elbows.’’
La’auli says on an ‘‘average’’ night they have 15 to 20 people attending the gym for training, from beginners to more advanced fighters.
As a non-profit organisation, he says they are not there to make money, but to help people with fitness and confidence.
‘‘By learning muay thai properly you will learn how to protect yourself if you can’t safely walk away from a situation, but also get fit and healthy.
‘‘We don’t train to fight; it’s important to realise that. I’m hoping we can get some new members but it’s really about giving our boys the opportunity to show off what they’ve learnt. There’s a dedicated few that do muay thai in New Zealand and we want to give the sport some exposure.’’
Tickets $25. Door sales only.
Champion kickboxer: Muay thai kickboxer Nato La’auli, who is trained and mentored by Rex Redden, with his two New Zealand belts. He will not be defending them this Saturday, but will be in the corners of some of Porirua’s up-and-comers.