& opinion


Early on Sunday 2nd March a group of bleary-eyed kickboxers piled into a minibus to make their way to Chorley Wood for the 2003 BIKMA Kickboxing Tournament. They were going there to support two Sussex University Kickboxing Club fighters, Yoshi Grote and Zac Etheridge. The kickboxers were still brushing away the cobwebs when they arrived, but by the end of the day they were looking on wide-eyed as Sussex claimed another sacred sporting triumph.

When the minibus arrived, Etheridge was seen grinning from ear to ear. He was underweight for his championship bout and spent the remainder of the morning grazing on toasties and other quality fayre.

Grote entered the ring and quickly moved into gear, landing plenty of her trademark side-kicks against her opponent. In the final round the other fighter was clearly tiring but in a close match the decision finally went against Grote. The Sussex girl returned to the group to cheer on her fellow competitor. Conversation lulled as Etheridge’s middle weight ‘semi-contact’ title fight drew near.

The Sussex kickboxer strutted out confidently against a much heavier opponent. In the first round he kept the challenger at bay with a series of sharp front kicks and jabs, prompting his opponent to retaliate with full contact force. The referee responded with a sharp warning. Etheridge was in better shape than his opponent, who was constantly leaning heavily on the ropes during the break. The heavier the man, the heavier the burden.

It was clear that Etheridge’s technique was outsmarting his rival, and in an uncontrolled spurt of frustration the bigger fighter lashed out with two illegal full contact punches. Etheridge reeled away in pain. Until this point he was clearly the victor. At last it was decided that the offending fighter would be disqualified, and the belt was duly handed to the Sussex fighter amid scenes of jubilation. It was Etheridge’s first British kickboxing title.

The kickboxing team are confident that the inter-university tournament, set to take place at Seaford on the 16th March, will yield more success. The triumphs of first Clive Harvey in the BUSA Karate Championships at Canterbury the previous weekend and now kickboxer Etheridge have at last left a shiny gloss on an otherwise disappointing season for Sussex sport.