21-year-old Airdronian Anthony Palombo went head-to-head against his American counterpart, Octavian Martin, in five rounds, totalling two minutes per round of Muy Thai kickboxing on Saturday night before he won The World Kickboxing Association's (WKA) North American Championship.
The fights resulted in no knockouts, which meant that the judges had to issue a decision.
"The judges decide on volume, damage and control. So, whoever controls that round, does the most damage and is the better fighter in that round, [they]re] pick the winner of that round. Then at the end of five rounds, whoever has won the most rounds, wins the fight," he said.
Though Palombo said he intuitively knew he had won before the judges issued their official decision, the rush of excitement and elation truly started pumping through his veins when his hand was raised in the ring, crowning him a champion.
"It was kind of hard to put into words, but felt really good. When I actually got my hand raised, it was a pretty wicked feeling. It was one of my toughest fights for sure."
While he was confident in his win, he did admit that prior to stepping into the ring and facing Martin, there were some nerves. He explained that 24 hours before the fight, fighters have to gauge a certain weight.
"We had to be 140 pounds and I'm looking at him [Martin] and he's super tall. Before the fight, I was nervous because of how long his legs were," Palombo said. "I was just wondering and hoping that could land my shots; because of how long his legs were. I never fought somebody that tall."
When asked if the Hollywoodesque depiction of fighters talking smack to each other rings true in real life, he said that for the most part fighters and the gyms they represent, have respect for each other and unless someone really gets under one's skin, there is not a whole lot of verbal barbs traded.
Palombo has been training since the tender age of nine years old and would often watch Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) matches; that coupled with his father being a martial artist, meant that the leap from spectator to fighter wasn't much of a leap at all.
And although this title is quite an achievement for the local athlete, he has also won the gold medal at the World Championships at the Thai Boxing Association (TBA) World Expo this past summer in Des Moines, Iowa. In 2019, Palombo came home with a bronze medal from the World Kickboxing Association Canadian Nationals in Edmonton.
While his family was in the crowd cheering him on, he also said that it was his coaches who propelled him toward victory.
"I was just grateful to have my coaches in my corner. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to pull it off. They really helped me with adjusting in each round and figuring out the guy who we were fighting," he said.
While he is still celebrating the weekend's victory, Palombo is already wanting to capture any and every title that comes his way, including the world title.
"We don't really have any plans for certain fighters that we want to fight, but we'll fight anybody; just whoever's got a title. We want to take it," he concluded.
Palombo belongs to the Bellagarde’s Dragons in Airdrie.
Send your news tips, story ideas, pictures, and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org