Traditional Belarus dancing to entertain at IFMA World Championships! Image LordK2 for IFMA

People talk about the roof lifting during sports events but there was a real risk the rafters were coming down during some of the bouts at the IFMA World Championships finals today.

Eleven countries jumped the ropes to battle for silver and gold – Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Thailand, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Turkey, Iran – in Elite male and three female bouts. Most of the female divisions closed out yesterday.

Just one ring stood in the centre of the arena with seating where the other ring was all week, and more seating on the other side where boxers had been warming up in previous days. People were lining up to collect tickets by 10.30am for the 11am opening.

The day opened with women’s 45kgs bout between Elena Liashkevech Belarus and Russia’s Vera Negodina. The Belarus champion led with her right hand from the first bell, and in spite of the Russian champion’s strong efforts particularly in the clinch, Elena claimed a points victory to the delight of the mainly local crowd.

Tight contest at 48kgs women between Russia and Belarus! Image LordK2 for IFMA

Another Belarus favourite stepped up for the 48kgs bout between Liudmila Chyslova and Thailand’s Konlak Suphisara. Both athletes love to use their knees and moved straight to the centre of the ring, twisting and turning at speed. A close battle it seemed it could go either way with the Thai athlete taking it by points.

The final female bout was in the 75+ division when Dziyana Yemialanava faced Turkey’s Rabia Akdemniz. In the opening minute the crowd was silenced by the ferocity of the Turkish girl’s skills. But in the second Dziyana came back strongly and forced out a win with an impressive third round, taking the gold medal on points.

The Elite Male division opened at 48kgs when another Turkish athlete Zubeyr Barin competed with Thailand’s Chobthumkit Thiwakorn. This one went down to the wire with the athletes standing 19:19 after two rounds leaving it all to play for in the third, and after a barrage of body-kicks Chobthumkit took the medal on points.

Full house for IFMA World Championships! Image Lord K2 for IFMA

This was followed by Kazakhstan’s Yelaman Sayassatov against Thai athlete Arnon Phonkrathok. This was another tight battle with many in the crowd taking the Kazakh boy’s side but in the end Arnon’s skills gave him the 51kgs medal.

At 54kgs a Russian athlete Aslanbek Zirkee jumped in against Thailand’s Kokkrachai Chotichanin for a fierce battle centred mainly around knees and elbows. Loud shots showed appreciation of the skills on offer and at the final bell Kokkrachai was happy to take a points win.

Russia was up again at 57kgs with Aleksandr Abramov facing defending champion Wiwat Khamtha from Thailand. Wiwat took a one point lead after the first round, and while Aleksandr chased this fiercely over two rounds working especially with punch combinations, he couldn’t close the gap, taking silver instead.

At 60 kgs up and coming athletes Filiph Waldt from Sweden faced Prawit Chilnak from Thailand. Another close bout, both started tentatively and carefully but the Thai athlete stepped on the gas in the third and pulled away for a points win, mainly with body-kicks and sweep low-kicks.

Another division qualifying for the World Games was at 63.5kgs with Israel’s Itay Guyer facing Belarus’ Artem Avenesov. This was an interesting fight for spectators with two very differnet styles on show, both fighters coming out strongly but working variously on body-kicks, elblows and Belarus quite strong in the knee-clinch. Itay works well on the outside but just couldn’t quite make it, having to settle for silver. He is already qualified for The World Games so they could meet again in Wroclaw!

The 67kgs bout was incredible to see with both athletes really putting it all out on the canvas. Dmitry Varats from Belarus claimed the win against Thailand’s Mana Samchaiyaphum in dramatic fashion. Working his left hand well, Varats was under pressure but coping and then swung that left again into the body leaving Mana completely winded and unable to continue. Another gold for Belarus.

Coaches ready for Portugal’s Diogo Colado 75kgs final! Image Lord K2 for IFMA

Thailand’s Suppachai Meungsang had an easy outing at 71kgs when his opponent couldn’t compete so he won by walkover – to the disappointment of the crowd who were looking forward to seeing Vadim Vaskov, Belarus try to take Suppachai’s title from him.

Next up was Portugal’s Diogo Calodo against Ivan Grigoryev from Russia at 75kgs in another belter of a close fight. They were 19:19 going into the final round. Ivan was working the teep/ push-kick very well using that to control the ring and follow with his hands, and in the end he took the gold in the third.

World Champion Dmitry Valent with his wife Marya and team.

At 81kgs we had another can’t-stay-in-your-seat bouts when defending world champion Dmity Valent took on Thailand’s Saranon Glompan in a royal battle over three rounds. Evenly matched and both incredibly experienced athletes, they traded blows and leg-work from one corner of the ring to another. A skin-cut on Valent’s nose from an earlier bout opened up lending a dramatic tinge to proceedings but not stopping him from claiming gold in a tense finish in the 3rd round.

His wife Marya  – European silver medallist 2016  – joined him on the ring for photos afterwards.

Another member of Team Belarus Yeuheni Vauchok took on Russia’s Mikhail Sartakov at 86kgs. Again this went the distance, with Belarus taking it 30 – 27 on points. The cheering-match between Russian and Belarusian fans around the stadium was as intense as what was happening inside the ring!

At 91kgs the Czech Republic champion Jakub Klauda faced Belarus’ Dzianis Hancharonak in a tough battle. Hancharonak took the IFMA gold medal on points after a technical fight.

The final bout of the day saw defending champion Tsotne Rogava from Ukraine facing Iran’s Iraj Azizpour in an entertaining and fast-paced bout.
Once again Iran’s support team was vocal beyond their size, but they couldn’t quite get him over the line and Tsotne remains the champion.

Athletes received their medals during the day, along with the Elite Female awards from yesterday’s bouts. A military band provide live music for the anthems, and an electronic board displayed their national flags above the silver podiums.

Awards were also given for Best Boxer Female, Sweden’s Patricia Axling,
Best Boxer male  – Belarus’s Aretem Avansov, Best Wai Khru to Thailand’s Kosorn Apsara.

And the closely contested Best Overall Team award went to Team Belarus for their stunning collection of gold and silver medals across male and female divisions!