Rocky Rumble 19 part one kicks off this weekend
MUAY THAI: Ryan Horan may have only a year's experience in the ring, but he has already impressed his trainer with his determination and skill.
Sizing up against some of the toughest fighters around, Horan will be competing in this Saturday's Rocky Rumble 19 part one, the first of three events this year.
According to Snake Pit Muay Thai owner and head trainer Torin O'Brien, the 21-year-old will be one to watch.
"He's very young and has had less than 12 months' training and he's already fought two amazing fights with Thai rules,” O'Brien said.
"He's committed to everything. Fighters need to be training every day, sometimes twice a day, and be very strict with their diet to compete.
"He's done better than most in a short time of training and is showing a lot of promise.
"The two fights were split decision losses, but the first fight didn't give him a match option until the next day and he fought a guy 10kg heavier and put on a great show.”
With brawn matching skill, fighters from across Central Queensland will battle it out across 16 bouts, showing just what they are made of.
O'Brien is in the process of preparing his fighters for Saturday night's exhilarating match-up of fighters from across the state.
"We're not sure how many fights are on the cards yet but we expect a dozen or so local match-ups,” he said.
"Usually our locals fight out-of-towners. Ryan just had an opponent change a few days ago, so you'll never know what will happen, usually up to the day.”
The fighters are not only tough but determined.
"They usually need eight weeks to get fit,” O'Brien said.
"We had one fighter who had to be brought down from 76kg with one week's notice.
"With extra training and dieting, we got him down to the agreed weight to be able to fight his new opponent.”
Defending his Rockhampton title will be Yeppoon Bare Knuckles' Matt Shaw, who will be competing in the full Thai style main bout against Townsville Fightfirm's Ricky Hammond.
There will be one other Thai bout in the juniors, with elbow padding as a safety measure.
The remainder of the bouts will be in modified or kick-boxing style.
"There will be at least half a dozen fighters, with four or five coming from local gyms between here and Yeppoon,” O'Brien said.
"There's also some coming from Townsville and one girl coming up from the Gold Coast.
"Fighting out-of-towners gives our local fighters exposure outside of who they normally fight.
"We also have a show in Yeppoon called Road to Glory with three fighters already matched. It's a good stepping stone for beginners to move up to the professional level.”
O'Brien will be missing the show, as he and his wife will be heading to Coastal Warfare on the Sunshine Coast where he will fight in the promotional Muay Thai event.
"Rocky fighters are quite tough. Even if they aren't the most technical, there's something about us,” he said.
"We bite down on our mouth guard and get through the night.
" We don't fall down and roll over.
"You'll see a lot of heart more than anything from CQ fighters.
"They have to be tough to make it here.
"It's harder for us than for Brisbane fighters as they have much more available to them, whereas he we have to push harder and travel further and be more committed to make it.”
Rocky Rumble organiser Ruben Fraser-Parle said last year's return in August after a six-year hiatus, showed the popularity of the event.
"Numbers were really good, we had 750 at the show which is bigger than when we used to previously hold it,” he said.
"It's a bigger event we're putting on now with the theatrics and the expense that goes with it.
"It's a really entertaining, family-friendly night and it takes you on a ride.
"It's not a bloodlust thing; it's a high quality sporting event where you can see the fighters put in so much effort and come together for a show for the public.”
Rocky Rumble Pt 1
When: Saturday February 23. Gates open 5.30pm. Fights running from 7pm-11.30pm.
Cost: General admission from $35, grandstand seated $50, ringside seat $70.
Where: Callaghan Park, Rockhampton.
Part two will be held in August and part three will be held in December.
Jumping castle, face painting and food vendors will be available.