THE bell has rung and eight of the best muay thai fighters in the world have been summoned to a winner takes all tournament in Thailand.
It sounds a lot like a premise for a martial arts movie, and if it was, Tamworth’s Ben Burrage would be one of the central characters.
The three-time world champion kickboxer flew out on Monday for a month’s training before the Toyota Cup in Bangkok.
The one-night event at Channel 7 Stadium will be broadcast on live television in Thailand.
Despite holding three different belts at the moment, the fighter said this was the biggest event of his career so far.
“To be on live TV, you dream of that sort of thing,” Burrage said. “It is massive to be invited to this kind of thing.”
If he is successful it will raise his profile at the home of muay thai and lead to bigger tournaments.
For the next few weeks Burrage will be in Kho Samui, training as part of the Lamai muay thai camp.
He will also have a few fights at Phet Bun Cha in order to keep his rank with the Muay Thai Council.
“I have to stay in the top 10,” Burrage said.
“I also want to get some fights in against really tough opponents to prepare.”
The Toyota Cup will be fought at welterweight, which is 66.8kg.
Burrage has been doing a lot of running to maintain that weight, and also as part of his plan to win.
The night will be a knockout tournament with three three-minute rounds, and three fights to the title.
“I am going to get as fit as I can and wear them down,” Burrage said.
“I am also doing a lot of work on my boxing.”
“The Thai’s are generally not strong with their hands.”
So far the fighter knows that his opponents will be from Thailand, Brazil and Iran. The winner of the tournament will walk away with 150 000 baht, just over $5000.
Fortunately his boss and publican at The Albert, Nick Weir, gives him time off and sponsorship, along with Quinn King from Milestones.
“There is not much money in it so I am very lucky to have these guys in my corner,” Burrage said.