Move over Vegas, because later this month, Ilkley will be hosting its very own heavyweight title fight, featuring a very local contender.
Ilkley’s very own Fred ‘Bam Bam’ Mathews is set to take on Skipton’s Chris Kinsey for the vacant ‘Pride and Glory’ British K-1 Heavyweight belt, which is the headline bout at the ‘Brawl in the Hall’ event taking place at the King’s Hall on Sunday February 24.
Mathews, who was one of the heroes of Ilkley Rugby Club’s crusade to Twickenham last year, took up K-1 almost two years ago simply as a way to keep fit after suffering a serious injury.
But it’s this rapidly emerging variation of kickboxing that has now taken priority, and the 28-year-old has decided to quit rugby in order to concentrate on his fighting.
“I’d played down at Ilkley for near enough 23 years,” says Mathews, “And I really enjoy the kickboxing, so I thought I’d have a change and give it my best shot.”
The title fight will also be Mathews’ first entry into the ring after an opponent withdrew from their scheduled bout late last year, and in Chris Kinsey, who is 32, the Ilkley fighter will be facing someone of considerable experience. “Chris is someone I have a lot of respect for.
“I’ve trained with him in the past, and he runs two gyms in the area. He knows what he’s doing.”
Mathews has been using the technique of a variety of combat disciplines throughout his training regime at the Taerigi-do Academy on Little Lane, in Ilkley.
“People keep asking me how training is going, but to tell you the truth, I have no idea, because this is my first fight.
“I feel fit, strong and confident so to the best of my knowledge it’s going really well. I’m enjoying it.”
And the chances for the Ilkley hopeful?
“They’re both big guys. Kinsey is probably technically better,” says Steve Harrison, the event coordinator, and Mathews’ coach, “But Fred is bigger and stronger. Once you get to the sizes of these guys, you can win with one punch.”
The event has 12 fights on the card, and as well as Mathews’ K-1 title fight, will showcase a range of disciplines including traditional kickboxing, mixed martial arts and boxing.
A bumper crowd is expected for ‘The Brawl in the Hall’, and tickets can be bought at Ilkley Town Hall.