Team USA Kickboxing traveled to Portugal in November for the WAKO World Championships. The Cellar Gym brought three fighters — Sam Bailey, Javier Huerta, and Katie Locken — to compete as part of Team USA, in addition to accomplished USA coaches Chris Cichon, Ben Locken, and Justin Whiley.
Although our fighters didn’t bring home medals, they each performed incredibly well against some of the world’s best kickboxers! All three had very impressive fights over the course of the week, and certainly made their country proud.
Sam won his first fight of the tournament on points, facing an extremely talented opponent for a hard-earned victory. He fought a tough fight in the second round, but ended up losing on points. He learned a lot of valuable lessons. We are so proud of his performance for his first international experience. He will be back even stronger!
In the first round of fights, Javier started Team USA’s weekend off with a bang! He won by points, pushing a fast pace and great technique. In the second round of fights, Javier took on the current world champion (#1 ranked) and brought it to him! Unfortunately, Javier did not walk away with the win, but this tournament was also his first time fighting internationally, and he proved that he is a future world champion. We are so incredibly proud.
Katie Locken lost on points to the #4 World Ranked, National Champion from Ukraine. It was a fantastic display of drive and determination. The Ukrainian fighter had great control of distance with her long range weapons, but Katie continuously worked her way inside and scored with low kicks. Down on points going into the third round, Katie left it all in the ring and attacked the Ukrainian with relentless pressure.
It’s not the result we were looking for, yet our objective was achieved. On short notice, Katie chose to fight in Portugal to test herself against the best fighters in the world. It was her first time doing international competition and only her second bout under this rule style. She proved she can compete at a World Class level!
This experience will shape Katie into a more dangerous fighter, a better equipped coach, and a more resilient person. This experience will likely trigger her next evolution of skills and we can’t wait to see what she is capable of at the next World Championships in 2025!