At­ten­tion all ... Class is now in ses­sion

Cape Times - - SPORT - Ju­lian Kiewi­etz

AN­DREW VAN ZYL is some­thing out of a Hol­ly­wood movie.

If I could zoom in on a mo­tion pic­ture, it would be Gavin O’Con­nor’s 2011 hit, War­rior, fea­tur­ing Joel Edger­ton and Tom Hardy.

That film has var­i­ous dy­nam­ics to it, but one of the main el­e­ments sees Mr Con­lon (Edger­ton), a teacher, en­ter a Mixed mar­tial arts com­pe­ti­tion to help him se­cure his fam­ily and home.

The word soon gets out to his col­leagues and stu­dents, much to their de­light.

Now An­drew (and that is Mr Van Zyl to you school kids out there) might not have any­thing in com­mon with Mr Con­lon aside from the awe­some re­al­ity that he is that teacher by day and War­rior “by night”.

The EFC heavy­weight cham­pion ed­u­cates his Parktown Boys’ High pupils through life ori­en­ta­tion and his­tory and has also been the first team rugby coach for the last 10 years. Be­ing a EFC star has also helped him en­gage his stu­dents on a deeper level.

“Be­ing in­volved in MMA al­lows me to be a work­ing model for the boys, they are very at­tuned to role mod­els who walk the talk. It is some­thing they can re­spect. I al­ways want to be some­one boys can re­spect,” says Mr Van Zyl who says that teach­ing found him in­stead of the other way round.

Come this week­end, class will def­i­nitely be in ses­sion when An­drew “One Gear” van Zyl opens his EFC “class­room door” also known as the Hexagon to the US’s Jared “The Moun­tain” Van­deraa at EFC 66 in Times Square, Pre­to­ria.

Judg­ing by Mr Van Zyl’s suc­cess rate, Van­deraa bet­ter have done his home­work if he has any chance of de­fy­ing this teacher’s les­son.

Van Zyl boasts an im­pres­sive record of 18 wins and 3 losses, his last de­feat com­ing to Cyril Asker at EFC 44.

And the heavy­weight cham­pion has no in­ten­tion of hand­ing over his belt that eas­ily, if at all, in the five-round cham­pi­onship bout to­mor­row.

“I have cov­ered all Jared’s fights on the net, he is well versed and very tough, he ba­si­cally is very sim­i­lar to me,” says the man who has an in­cred­i­bly strong jaw, a heavy punch and im­pres­sive grap­pling abil­ity.

An­drew, a 1.89m cham­pion with a 199cm reach, fights out of the BJMMA gym in Rand­park Ridge, Johannesbu­rg, un­der (or should we say over) the watch­ful eye of Bobby Kara­gian­ni­dis. The heavy­weight king has over­come many op­po­nents, and with 18 wins un­der his belt, you can only imag­ine how many fight­ers are bay­ing for his blood.

Look­ing back, he ad­mits that his tough­est fight to date was with Elvis Moyo at EFC 54.

That fight saw Moyo pun­ish Van Zyl for three straight rounds, par­tic­u­larly with that dan­ger­ous right jab that is packed with power and speed. He tested Van Zyl in al­most ev­ery as­pect of the game which in­cluded a take­down de­fence and clinch­work.

Yet, in the fourth round, Van Zyl stood res­o­lute and this is where that tough skin of his came through.

With just mo­ments be­fore the doc­tor step­ping in to call a stop­page via TKO, “One Gear” swept Moyo to the can­vas and took full mount to land some earth-shat­ter­ing blows to the ID of Moyo forc­ing the ref to call the match.

It was one of the great­est, if not the great­est, come­backs in the his­tory of EFC. And a true tes­ti­mony to the cham­pion within Teacher Van Zyl.

“I have a good de­fen­sive tech­nique and I out­last op­po­nents sim­ply be­cause I am in bet­ter shape,” he says.

He claims his ver­sa­til­ity and abil­ity to fight ev­ery­where is one of the rea­sons why he is where he is to­day.

In prepa­ra­tion for the fight, he con­cluded that he has just worked on get­ting bet­ter at the sim­ple things.

Van Zyl’s short-term goal right now might be to over come “The Moun­tain” in Pre­to­ria to­mor­row. But he has a dream of open­ing a Brazil­ian Jiu-Jitsu school in the near fu­ture. Wit­ness­ing the pos­i­tive ef­fect he has on so many kids, maybe this Parktown War­rior can too be­come a Box Of­fice hit, just like Gavin O’ Con­nor’s 2011 movie.

*All Main Card fights to be aired live on SABC 3 at 9pm to­mor­row night.

*Fol­low me @ju­liankiewi­etz on Twit­ter for live updates


SHOW­ING THAT THICK SKIN: An­drew van Zyl ad­mits Elvis Moyo was his tough­est op­po­nent yet.


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