Special to the Townsman
Josh Casimer made his kickboxing and Muay Thai premiere on September 11, in Airdrie, Alberta.
If you didn’t know Josh you would have been sure he had done this before, he looked relaxed and calm as he warmed up awaiting his division to be called. He was making good natured jokes with his supporters as he was waiting. His smile lit up the room and he showed no outward signs of nervousness.
Josh had worked very hard to get here and he was not worried about his performance as he waited.
His preparation for this tournament was very gruelling. Hours of cardio, strength training, pad work, bag work, running and sparring. Josh was fortunate to have three-time Canadian national gold medalist, Tyson Hirscher as one of his sparring partners, along with amateur fighter and an amateur WAKO champ, Greg Bennet, his gym mates, and Coaches Keith Young and Joel Huncar. This small stable of fighters and coaches were happy to help this amazing young man get ready for this event.
The thing about Josh that made these men so eager to help him was his demeanor and heart. Josh is a special kind of young man, respectful and hardworking, Josh exemplifies the kind of fighter any gym wants to have as part of their fighting team. Josh left behind any physical and mental weakness he had getting ready for this event in the form of puddles of sweat and the occasional blood stain on the mats at his gym. He prepared for this with the heart of a champion.
He was pushed, punched, kicked and kneed by his training partners to get him prepared for the gruelling contest he was going into. His training camp lasted six weeks and the fighter that started that camp was not the same fighter who finished it. His power and skill seemed to improve with every session and in the end, he came out with the movement and power of a true Nak Muay (Muay Thai Fighter). His coaches and training partners were pleased with his improvements and Josh seemed to exude the quiet confidence of a young man aware of his abilities.
The event, a continuous tournament, put on by Airdrie Martial Arts, was a very well run and organized event. Owners Vanessa Bellegarde and Luis Cofre showed the kind of professionalism that years of experience in running tournaments like this give you. This kind of event is a perfect way for inexperienced fighters to get used to fighting in front of a crowd. This is a great way for someone like Casimer to get his feet under him in his fledgling fight career, and did he ever take a big step forward in that career.
In his first kickboxing match Josh started a little reserved, but within about 20 seconds his nerves got under control, and he began to dominate the fight. Josh showed cleaner technique, ring control and landed far more punches and kicks. Not only that, but the techniques he landed were thrown with skill and precision. Josh made the referee/judge’s work easy for them and he got the win.
He only had one other fighter in his kickboxing division and to be honest, Josh went through him like a buzz saw. Coaches, fighters and spectators all commented on Josh’s obvious skill afterword. The young man was beaming with the pride of accomplishment. It was very uplifting to see the obvious joy in this young man’s face.
Unfortunately, when it came to the Muay Thai division Josh had no one his age to fight and because of that he had to fight a 19-year-old man, who looked to be in a higher weight class. Fighting an older, bigger opponent did not seem to deter Josh. In fact he entered the ring with a big smile on his face and an air of confidence.
Both fighters showed great sportsmanship, with neither fighter getting out of control. These continuous tournaments are supposed to be preparation tournaments for inexperienced fighters, so they are controlled contact. Don’t get me wrong, they are hard contact, but not knock out contact. That kind of thing happens after a fighter has done a few of these preparatory continuous tournaments. These kinds of tournaments, if handled properly are a great steppingstone in a fighter’s career.
Josh had mentioned to his coach that he wanted to land a spinning back kick, which he managed to do. This showed exactly how calm the youngster was, he was able to use this event as a training tool, because he was willing to try risky techniques and not just stick to the tried, true and easy techniques.
Unfortunately, Josh was unable to get the win over this larger and older fighter. He did hold his own and give a fantastic performance that was noticed by many people in attendance.
This event was a great experience for this young fighter and Airdrie Martial Arts put on an event that was safe, enjoyable, challenging and well organized. The crew at RMMA Family Centre will continue to support events like this and watch for more fighters from this small, local gym to be sending more fighters out to events like this and full contact Muay Thai fight cards as well. However right now it is time to give a hand to Josh Casimer for showing great courage and fortitude and representing his gym and his community with honour and integrity.
As we are getting closer to Muay Thai becoming an Olympic sport, Casimer hopes to one day bring Olympic gold back to his community. Let’s encourage him to keep working towards that admirable goal.