Washdyke’s Lucky 9 Gym cemented its reputation among New Zealand’s Muay Thai community over the weekend, with two members taking national titles at Vendetta 2019.
The gym hosted the event on Saturday night and, despite the Rangitata flooding causing access and communication problems, pulled off a successful six hours of entertainment, featuring 11 fights.
At the end of a 15-minute fight with Quinita Hati (Bay of Islands), Kaitlyn Tucker was named winner of the women’s light welterweight A Class New Zealand title, while 13-year-old Bluestone School pupil AJ Foster beat New Plymouth’s Boyd Timanus in a seven and a-half minute-fight to win the Kiwi weight New Zealand title.
Tucker has been practising Muay Thai for five years, and Saturday night’s fight was her fifth.
She picked up the sport when she found hockey and gym-going were not challenging her enough.
“But I never wanted to fight .. and then my coach said, ‘yeah, you should fight’ and I said ‘no, I don’t think so’. But I did my first one and I was addicted after that.
“I love the style. It’s authentic. We try to train and fight like Muay Thai fighters.”
Her daytime persona at family business Kidstuff is very different, but she says her choice of sport has not really surprised her family.
“I was a really feisty child, so they were like, ‘that makes sense’. Mum doesn’t really like it, I’m in my happy place and I look at her and she’s shaking like a leaf. But as long as she knows that I’m prepared mentally and physically, she’s not so bad.”
AJ’s mum Rima Foster agrees Muay Thai is hard on parents.
“It was horrible. I hated it. I was trying to hide out the back. It just wrecks you.”
But she is proud of the dedication AJ has to the sport, training six days a week.
AJ joined Lucky 9 Gym when he was 9, following in the footsteps of his sister and her friend. They lasted a month, he stayed on, and likes the physical nature of the sport.