THE 1994 BATTLE OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS & PRAIRIES (Calgary, Canada) - October 18th, 1994
The annual 'Battle', hosted by Mike Miles, again treated Calgary to the sport of international Muay Thai and Kickboxing. Despite a late start (due to the day's traditional Karate tournament running late), the sell-out crowd of 1200 people received the event with warm enthusiasm. Teams from Holland, England, and the US competed this year and each of the competitors represented their respective countries with true sportsmanship.
The main event fight of the evening featured Canada's own Chad Sawyer (Mike Miles / Calgary)battling against Holland's Wahid Wennekes in a 5 round Muay Thai bout. Sawyer went into the fight sitting on 2 amateur World Middleweight Muay Thai Titles. The Dutch athlete was sitting on a Dutch Title. Wennekes has the nickname of 'Ironhead' but he would more aptly be titled 'Ironman'. The Dutchman used to train at the prestigious Chakuriki Gym run by Thom Harinck. Wennekes was an alternate for Holland's K-3 tournament which ran weeks earlier than the Battle. The K-3 tournament is a competition to find the best middleweight under Thai Boxing rules. Wennekes now hails from the Shima Gym in Holland run by Bob Schrijber who is known as Rob Kaman's sparring partner and has made a good name for himself as a fighter. This was an international prestige fight and no titles were on the line. The opening round held plenty of action as both fighters took the fight to the other. Uncharacteristically of Sawyer, the opening round's pace was terribly high. Sawyer found the Dutchman quite easily with blows in this round. Sawyer sent the Dutchman to the canvas and into a backwards somersault from a brutal left knee to the body. It was perfectly placed but the Dutchman just got up and showed no emotion. In the second round, Sawyer delivered a dozen knees square to the left thigh of Wennekes while clinching. Moments later 8 more knees found targets on Wennekes thigh. Unbelievably, the Dutchman was unaffected, he continued to bounce effortlessly on the left leg. The 'Iron Head' proved to be the 'Iron Body' and with his refusal to show any pain reminded the writer of the Terminator. Wennekes still used his leg accurately, energetically, and without hesitation throughout the whole fight.
The first two rounds were won by the Canadian. The third was very close but even though Sawyer was very tired he still proved too slippery for the Dutchman to corner and catch squarely with any blows. During this round Wennekes would respond to any clean blows landed by Sawyer by sticking his tongue out in disdain.
In the fourth and fifth rounds, Sawyer's stamina was in question, yet Wennekes appeared fresh, amazing considering the blows his legs took. Wennekes has powerful upper body strength and used it to his advantage, powerful hooks and strong (occasionally wild) over hand rights. Sawyer's knees continually found their mark yet failed to deter his opponent. A spirited but short lived comeback in the final round was not enough to sway the judges in favor of Sawyer. Wahid Wennekes from Team Holland won a split decision. The audience loved the fight and showed their appreciation by a seemingly unending burst of applause. Both fighters have stated they would like a rematch.
The semi-main event was 5 rounds of International Thai Boxing. Though not a scorcher in terms of intensity, it was a brilliant display of tactics. Time and time again fighters have fallen to Mike Trebunia (Mike Miles / Calgary). Why? Watch any of this fighters tapes and the answer is all too plain... 'Cut Kicks'. Nearly every victory has been the result of heavy cut kicks. What makes Trebunia different than anyone else is that he uses tactics and techniques to set up the cut kicks. Usually, this results in his opponents concentrating on Trebunia's cut kicks and not the fight. Jimmy Poirier of Team Holland, fought well in the opening round and threw many of his own powerful cut kicks. The opening round, for both competitors, saw blows landing heavily. Both fighters were sent reeling from punches to the head. Consistently, Team Holland's fighters had strong punches and followed up well. Trebunia also followed up well and countered using his legs the majority of the time. Nevertheless, Trebunia's cut kicks won him the bout. Poirier's left leg was swollen and a deep purple at the end of the bout.
The next bout was a five round international Muay Thai bout. In the Trent Herman (Mike Miles / Calgary) - Eddie Guzman (USA) fight, Herman fatigued early due to Guzman's very effective knees. Guzman, the more efficient clincher, used his talent to its fullest. Herman's corner warned him to be leery of in-fighting and to stick to distancing himself, to use his height and reach advantage. Ironically though, it was a knee to Guzman's abdominal's that turned the momentum of the fight. Guzman did not recover from the knee. Afterwards, the American resorted to jumping up (while clinching) and wrapping his legs around Herman and kept pulling him to the canvas. Herman took the bout by a close margin. The judges scored on mastery of the ring and who scored the cleanest shots with their attacking weapons. The lack of aggressive techniques and ring mastery in the later rounds cost the American the bout.
The bout of the evening (in terms of audience appreciation) was a five round International Muay Thai bout between Yves Philidor Jr. (Mike Miles / Calgary) and Colin Mansurr (Holland). Incredible fight of the night! During Philidor's Wai Kru, a ceremony of respect, Mansurr strutted around and stood in Philidor's face through out the ceremony. He was even heard to tell the Canadian to give up, before the fight started! This infuriated the audience. The lack of respect was compounded by the fact that Mansurr even had a Canadian flag sewn on the butt of his fighting shorts. Honestly, Mansurr would be great for working the audience in a WWF event. He proved it here as the crowd was yelling for Philidor to dish out justice Canadian style. Mansurr responded by yelling at the audience. The belll rang and Philidor had the look of a man possessed. The energy of the crowd fueled Philidor and he unleashed a flurry of blows Mansurr could not see, let alone counter. During clinching, Philidor threw the Dutch athlete to the canvas over and over. Mansurr was thrown to the ground eight times throughout the course of the fight. Philidor caught nearly a third of Mansurr's kicks and tossed him to the ground. Mansurr fell so many times to the canvas that by the second round, every time the Canadian caught his leg, Mansurr would just simply fall to the canvas. In the second round Philidor jumped in and launched a knee which hit the Dutch athlete on the chin. Another time he was hit in the groin. Frustrated the Dutch athlete resorted to head-butts and threw several elbows. The referee was all over Mansurr for the infraction. However, in fairness the Canadian should have been warned about his two illegal blows, whether deliberate or not. Philidor dominated the fight by winning the first four rounds overwhelmingly. Yet Mansurr was not knocked out nor did he quit to his credit. The officials called this the bout of the evening and both fighters received their trophies in the ring showing respect towards each other. Philidor also won the 'Roy Lilley Memorial Award' for the best fighter on the event. It was presented by Roy's mother Darlene. The trophy is presented annually to the best fighter at each 'Battle' to honor 2 time World Champion Roy Lilley who passed away the day after the 1993 Battle in a tragic car mishap. Roy would have been proud of Yves on this night!
The under card featured Kerry Dell (Mike Miles / Calgary) against Bill Mullens (England) in a 3 round Muay Thai bout. This was a highly entertaining fight. The British fighter outweighed the Canadian by around 10 pounds. Mullens and his physique presented a very deceiving look, compared to what his capabilities actually were. In the opening round, both men let their presence be known and felt. Neither gave up ground and both, being big men, were rocked. Mullens, surprised the crowd with fast hands and foot work. The speed of Mullen's hand and foot work would be the deciding factor in this bout. He set up cut kicks with his jabs and the Canadian seemed content to block them on his thigh. Dell was moving slow, maybe a little too relaxed. Mullens was faster and this allowed him to set up his battle plan before the Canadian could get into gear. Mullens won by a TKO decision in the second through the use of his cut kicks.
In another 5 round international Muay Thai bout Danny Bennet, of Team USA, was TKO'd by Eric Lollike (Mike Miles / Calgary) early in the second with a cut kick just as Bennet was throwing a right bomb. The American had plenty of energy in the opening round and possibly could have taken the fight if his stamina was better. Lollike took the fight on one week's notice to cover for an absent Shawn Pelkey from Winnipeg. Bennet, due to having more experience and better conditioning than the Canadian allowed Lollike a slight weight advantage. This factor never came into play during this fight.
Vanessa Bellegarde (Mike Miles / Calgary) faced Julie Heselgrave (England) in a 3 round international Muay Thai bout. Again, stamina decided the bout. Heselgrave clinched very effectively and dominated the fight. Bellegarde fought very well at a distance but could not match the English athletes strict punches and clinches. Heselgrave took the bout in the middle of the second when Bellegarde's coach stopped the bout. The Brit found she was too strong for the Canadian when it came to clinching and capitalized on it.
Donovan South (Winnipeg), a regular to Mike Miles fight cards, fought Dean Baranitsky of Whitecourt in a 3 round Muay Thai match. Baranitsky fought very well and should be proud of his performance. He simply could not however, match South's strength. It was a very entertaining match regardless. South was given the decision.
Plenty of action filled the first round of the Jason Fenton (Mike Miles / Calgary) - James Burgess (Engkand) bout. An over hand right rocked Fenton early but he recovered answering with s strong knee combination. Both competitors answered the call of the fight and fought tremendously. Strong cut kicks and over hand rights won the bout for the English fighter. The Canadian was a little slow getting off the line and this gave the Brit the time he needed to win the bout. This would be a super re-match.
Wayne Kerr (Mike Miles / Calgary) was a ball of fire in the opening round and continued through the second and the third. Colin Barnet, of Winnipeg, held his own but could not match Kerr's energy. This was a spirited fight that saw Kerr the winner.
As usual with the Battle cards of past, Mike Miles did not let the spectators or the fighters down. The spectators saw the best come out in all the fighters. The fighters had to pull out their best to win their matches. There has been a lot of interest from all kinds of major sponsors for the 1995 event. Preliminary talks with Mike Miles promise a scorcher of an event again. Sawyer and Philidor could possibly be professional by the time this card rolls around again. The rumor is that Team Canada will be fighting a Russian Team. The beginning of the 'Cold Wars' starts again with the preparation for this e