As with all things that have been placed on hold due to Covid-19, fight fans have also been severely starved of blow-by-blow action.
Thai boxing, not enjoying as much fame as other sporting codes in the country, was particularly hard hit as it is that much harder to promote.
Enter Thaiholics Promotions, a fight promotion for fighters by fighters, as Nicholas Radley, founder and CEO, puts it.
The former SA light heavyweight champ in boxing hung up his gloves earlier this year and shifted his attention to promotion.
Radley’s gym, Thaiholics, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and what better way to celebrate than hosting a big spectacle that will be headlined by an All African title fight.
Next month they will hold their first Muay Thai championships that will be headlined by a WMO Welterweight All African title fight between Raphael Wozniak and Ncedo Gomba.
They are particularly excited that the fight between Wozniak and Gomba was sanctioned as a title fight.
The event is the first of many that have been lined up by Thaiholics as they push to make the sport of Thai boxing one of the major sports in the country.
Former sports writer for Southern Mail, Karl Bergemann, is one of the fighters who will be participating in the event, taking on Renier Vos in the Cruiserweight division.
Female fighters include Crystal van Wyk taking on Tara Senekal, and Stacy Kensley and Devin Rae Gouws also going to battle.
With little to no money that fighters get in sports like Muay Thai, Radley says now is the right time to switch things up for the benefit of the fighters and make sure they get what they deserve.
Not only do they focus on professional fighters but they are also dedicated to opening doors for the amateurs and the first event will be a mix of pro and amateurs.
“We only have a set number of professionals and if we keep circling through those guys and not give everybody an opportunity to get better and get their pro status, we are going to end up with nothing left, so we have to start from the beginners and allow them to fight. If we do that in the next two to three years we have the next set of professionals coming though,” said Radley.
Feeling there is a big gap that needs to be filled in the Muay Thai scene, Radley says that is why the promotion is focused on Muay Thai as it makes it easier when you have one target area.
“Thai boxing is where my interests lie, so to split my attention to boxing, Muay Thai, etc, will slow us down. We decided to focus on Thai boxing to make this sport more recognisable in this country and be able to compete with internationals.”
Putting together the Reload-themed event was not particularly hard as both fighters and fans have been starved of such an event. Even though no spectators will be allowed, the event will be live-streamed on their YouTube channel.
“With almost two years of no fighting and no such events taking place, the fighters were super excited when the opportunity to fight was presented. So, it made the job of putting it all together quite easy,” said Radley.
“We’ve been here for many years in the fight scene and now it’s time to build the future and better the future of fighters,” he added.