Destiny 4 at Woodbine: A Night of Champions
By Ryan McKinnon
On Saturday April 8th 2017, Woodbine Racetrack and Casino was host to the fourth event of the famed Destiny Fight Productions, an amateur Muay Thai promotion out of Toronto, Canada, sanctioned by Muay Thai Ontario. Headed by Kru Mikey Prez of Southside Muay Thai and Steve Lee of Redemption Muay Thai, the promotion continued to build upon the success and support of previous events.
A sold out crowd proved evident that the 12-bout fight card was stacked from top to bottom. Fighters represented gyms from Ontario, Buffalo, Mexico, Georgia (country, not state), and Thailand. At least 1000 fans, fighters, and Muay Thai family came to support their local heroes. Everyone who attended knew that they were about to witness a legendary fight card with a main event for the ages.
The evening began with Fritz Munir of York Muay Thai against Alex Coles of Krudar Muay Thai. Both men were fighting for the first time in a sanctioned bout, which takes a lot of guts, especially in front of such a roaring crowd. After 3 rounds of striking and grinding it out in the clinch, it was Alex who secured a decision win over Fritz, but not without being pushed to his limits. We look forward to seeing both of these Nak Muay compete in future events.
The second bout of the evening really got the fans going when Artyom Aleksev from the Striking Academy scored a second round head kick against Jeff Doherty of Dohjo Muay Thai, which led to a referee stoppage. Artyom looked composed and confident in his technical abilities, which is something we don’t often see in younger fighters. Artyom is certainly a fighter worth watching in future competition.
Later in the card, fans were treated to a real battle between Shaun Baillie of Redemption Muay Thai and Yianni Siamandouros of Krudar Muay Thai. Shaun took the fight on 4 days notice after returning home from a trip to Cuba. Fighting at this level under those circumstances is not easy, and most people wouldn’t take the opportunity. However, Shaun is no ordinary fighter. He had to deal with Yianni’s constant pressure for 3 rounds. He did a fantastic job of fighting while moving backwards. His display of footwork, range, and timing earned him a new host of fans. After 3 rounds, Shaun was declared the winner.
The last 3 fights of the night were headlined by title holders, 3 of whom will be representing their respective countries in the IFMA World Championships in Minsk, Belarus in May. First up was Dylan Wharton of TKMT against Zhao Churchill of Caged Dragon Muay Thai. Zhao looked like he was up for the challenge against Dylan who is one of Canada’s National Team members. He engaged Dylan at every moment in the fight, but proved to be just a little below Dylan’s skill level that evening. After getting outworked in the clinch, Zhao’s corner made the decision to throw in the towel. No honour lost for Zhao. He took on one of Canada’s top fighters. This experience will surely help him on his journey to becoming the best fighter he can be.
In the co-main event, Eric Rocha of MAFA squared off with Antonio Arnold of Westside Muay Thai. With both men having pro experience, it meant that their fight would showcase a high level of technical Muay Thai to the delight of the fans. Unfortunately the fight came to an abrupt end when an elbow from Arnold opened a cut over the left eye of Rocha. Referee Tony Manoharan took a timeout in the fight to have the ringside doctor take a look at Eric’s cut. After some debate between the doctor, the cornermen, and the officials, Tony erred on the side of caution and waved off the fight, thereby awarding the win to Antonio. Though the fight was somewhat anti-climactic, in amateur competition, preserving the health of the athlete is paramount. With an early stoppage to the co-main, it meant that the main event was up sooner than anticipated.
Andy Tran of Southside Muay Thai, one of Ontario’s golden Muay Thai fighters met Ruben ‘Tuzo’ Cruz of LBTM Muay Thai in Mexico. Both athletes will be representing their countries at the World Championships in less than a month. This fight was one of the most highly anticipated match-ups since it was officially announced by the promoters. Cruz follows the lineage of Ajahn Suchart in Toronto, as he is a member of a Siam affiliate in Mexico. He has visited Canada on a few occasions to prepare himself for fights in his country, participating in demos with Southside and York Muay. In the past, Cruz fought and defeated some of Southside’s stable of fighters. Now it was Andy’s turn to fight Cruz in front of a hometown crowd, and potentially avenge his teammates’ losses.
The fight was an absolutely amazing demonstration of the highest level of amateur Muay Thai that two fighters can display. Fans were on their feet the entire time. It was sheer chaos. Screams and chants for Andy must have been heard on Rexdale Blvd. Southside always represent well at events, and this was certainly no exception. Both men really showed what the daily cultivation of Muay Thai skill can look like when it’s applied correctly. Andy did a great job of countering Ruben, and using his range and strength to score points in and out of the clinch. Ruben’s sharp jab and stonewall defense gave Andy a real challenge that night. His footwork was perfect, and his timing in the clinch was so pinpoint, he managed to sweep Andy to the mat on several occasions.
After 3 rounds of non-stop action, It was Ruben who defeated Andy by the narrowest of margins. Although the loss was disappointing to the local Tran fans, you have to admire a fighter who accepted such a big challenge weeks before the World Championships. Losing is part of the game. The lessons that come from a loss are more important than the wins, and Andy is an intelligent fighter who will come back stronger after such a big fight. There is a potential rematch in Belarus between these two young champions, depending on what bracket they are in. Congratulations to both fighters. They represented themselves, their gyms, and their countries like true sportsmen. We look forward to seeing them battle it out next month in Minsk.
Another successful event by Destiny Fight Productions proved that Muay Thai is loved in Ontario. All of the fans were treated to some of the finest action that an amateur Muay Thai fight card can possess. All of this wouldn’t be possible without the professionalism and hard work of the promoters and the sanctioning body, Muay Thai Ontario. It has taken a lot of hard work from everyone in the community to host events. Please continue to support local Muay Thai in Ontario!
Send us your questions, comments, pictures, and stories from Destiny 4. We look forward to the next Destiny event. Stay tuned!