World Champion of the Western Suburbs

I called the editor of Inside Sport Magazine, Graem Sims, to pitch him a story about a famous Australian kickboxer a month or so ago. I felt that being published in Inside Sport would be a real coup; the magazine features some of the highest-quality writing you can buy on a newsstand. It also sets a benchmark for what Australians view as quality sport. I rang his Sydney office and left a message, and to my considerable surprise, he promptly rang me back.

When I answered the phone and got over the shock of who it was, I began to quickly enumerate the titles that particular kickboxer held, including his international achievements. Once I had started talking about titles, Graem said that he had discovered he had to be careful when talking about kickboxing, given how many different titles and organisations there were out there.

In 2010, Kickboxing remains an ‘underground’ sport. Most people don’t know who Paul Slowinski is, nor do they have any knowledge of what he has achieved. Similarly, they haven’t heard of Ben Edwards, nor do they know about the enormous task he is about to undertake as he climbs onto the tallest stage in the kickboxing world to a possible showdown with men like Overeem, Schilt, Aerts and Le Banner.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that kickboxing is the greatest sport in the world. Those of us who love it recognise in it everything that makes sport great, all rolled into the one competition. The wider public probably aren’t that far away; many people tune in to Foxsports to watch, and I hear them discussing various fighters and fights the next day at the gym. Given how ‘violent’ the UFC is, it sold out in Sydney in a matter of minutes. The public is hugely receptive to new codes of fighting.

The biggest problem with kickboxing is a lack of a credible sanctioning body. International Kickboxer Magazine does its best to redress this by ranking Australian fighters from edition to edition. The magazine has to tread a fine line, however, as the sport is controlled, particularly in Victoria, by greedy, unscrupulous promoters who have reduced it to feudalism. There is a reason Victoria has shifted from the strongest to the weakest kickboxing state. There are very few Victorian fighters with more than five fights to their credit, and this is because the sport has been structured as little more than a funnel to channel all the money back into the promoter’s pockets. Victorian promoters WILL NOT PAY fighters if they can possibly avoid it.   

John Scida is quoted in the latest International Kickboxer Magazine as saying that the worst thing to happen to kickboxing and Muay Thai is that “there are too many titles out there.” John has recently promoted his star pupil, Jason Tramsek, as fighting for a world title at the Westend Hotel and Nightclub in beautiful downtown St Albans. Did he fight Tyrone Spong? Was it Gokhan Saki? Perhaps it was another credible Australian, like Steve McKinnon or Nathan Corbett?

If you put aside the fact that Jason never seems to fight interstate, and takes on all his opponents on John Scida’s promotions under old fashioned kickboxing rules (no knees, no grapple), Jason is an exciting, talented fighter. He is only 23 however, and no doubt his opinions are as conditioned as his skills. He probably can’t hear any voices, other than John’s. Jason has tried to shift into other skill-sets unsuccessfully. Both times he has lost his fights, the two blemishes on his record. His short-lived professional boxing career went the same way.

Jason retired on the night of his ‘win’, making any meaningful discussion about his true status moot. It does, however, leave a lingering distaste in the mouth where Scida is concerned. Truth be told, Scida is petrified of Tramsek failing in other states under other rules as it will spell out his inadequacies as a trainer. If Scida is good at anything, it’s running a sewing circle; one only has to read the comments on the International Kickboxer online forum and read the ridiculous, obsequious plaudits posted by Victorians who obviously know at which end their meal ticket is punched.   

Well done, Jason, and congratulations, John; another win for Victorian kickboxing and for the sport in general.

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