MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

April 7, 2013

Muay-Thai draws locals to join battle

By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer

— Undoubtedly, Billy Clark was the hometown favorite.

The 2009 Hilldale High School graduate gave the Muskogee Civic Center fans plenty to cheer about as he knocked out Wayne Pokornik of Winnipeg, Canada at 53 seconds into the fifth and final round to win the Striking Fights Junior Middleweight title on Saturday night.

Striking Fights was the local organization promoting the 19-fight card. It was one of two title fights.

Clark, who attends Oklahoma State University, said he was having trouble in the early rounds.

“He was tearing me up in the clinches,” he said. “I couldn’t push him around. Those Canadians are tough as nails.”

But Clark found an opening in the fifth round. He used a straight right hand to drop Pokornik. The Canadian was counted out.

“When he didn’t get back up, I got so excited. I’m ecstatic right now,” Clark, who improved to 11-2 with five knockouts, said.

In the other title fight, Adam Edgerton of Louisville, Ky., dropped Daniel Miller of Nashville, Tenn., twice in the third round to win the United States Muay Thai Association Junior Middleweight title.

The second and decisive knockdown came at 1:15 of the third round.

“I dropped him with an upper cut on the first on,” Edgerton, now 14-7 with three knockouts, said. “I just tried to use him as a speed bag after that. I didn’t want to use a lot of power because I knew he was hurt.”

The title fights were sanctioned by the United States Muay Thai Association, based in New York, and is one of two such organizations in the country, according to promoter John West. The other is Thai Boxing Association, West said.

The Civic Center fights were fought with USMTA officials at ringside.

It was the first time to have kickboxing in Muskogee and local promoter John West is counting on that it won’t be the last.

“You see other part of the country doing this as they have shows on the east and west coast,” West, who lives in Muskogee, said. “There aren’t a lot of those here in the central United States. There a lot of fighters in this part of the country.

“We want to go throughout Oklahoma and the surrounding states. Our plan is to hit larger cities, but after seeing everyone excited here, we’re going to do more shows here.”

West said he thought having a show here was a good place to start.

“My partners and I thought it would be nice to try to do something here that you see in other parts of the country,” he said.

Muay Thai can be best described as boxing with punching, kicking and kneeing permitted.

Kickboxing, though, isn’t limited to men either. Kickboxers can also be female and even quite young as it showed at the 19-fight card.

Muskogee’s Kelsey Sipes showed her skill with a technical knockout just 53 seconds into her fight.

“I hear people say all of the time girls shouldn’t be fighting because they don’t think we can fight, but I don’t mind that,” the 17-year-old Muskogee High School sophomore said. “I just don’t want anybody messing with my hair.”

Kickboxers can be as young as 12.

Tanner Walker, a student at Hilldale Middle School, had quite a fan following with people holding up signs in the stands as he entered the ring. His night, however, didn’t last very long as he was knocked out with 1:46 left in the first round.

He remained undaunted.

“I’ve always liked fighting and I have friends who fight,” he said after his debut. “It’s OK that I lost as long as I tried.”