Southlanders heading to champs

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WHEN it comes to kickboxing, Southland more than holds its own with six Southlanders dominating the seven-member New Zealand squad competing at the junior world championships in Dublin, Ireland, later this month.
The national squad consists of six fighters and two referees from Southland and one fighter from Auckland.
The Southland fighters are Jessie Wynne and Aidan Jones, of Invercargill’s Toa Fighting Systems, and Michael King, Dylan Holland, Levi Smith and Anthony Ferguson, of Kickboxing Mataura.
World Association of Kickboxing Organisations (WAKO) New Zealand and Oceania president Peter Thompson said the team was selected from more than 40 fighters who took part in trials held in Invercargill and Auckland earlier this year and selection was based on two philosophies — those who were medal prospects and those who would benefit from the experience.
The disproportionate number of Southlanders in the squad was possibly due to a higher level of commitment to the sport in the south, he said.
WAKO vice-president Roy Baker said 1900 competitors from 61 countries would compete at the world championships this year in points fighting, light contact, kick light, low kick, K1 rules, full contact and musical forms.
The young Southland fighters said they were nervous and excited to be competing on the world stage.
Wynne and Jones will compete in the tatami division in points fighting and light contact categories.
‘‘It is a really cool opportunity to improve my skills,’’ Wynne said.
Jones said he was honoured to be selected because he had only been kickboxing for about 10 months.
This will be the second world championships for King, who competed in Italy two years ago.
He will compete in the K1 (ring fighting) category.
‘‘I am hoping to make it past the second round and bring home a medal,’’ he said.

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