Adrenalin rush: Young muay thai fighter ready to rumble
MUAY THAI: Dale Ward can still remember his son Cooper's first lesson at Unison Martial Arts.
"He loved it,” Dale said. "He came out all smiles and he hasn't looked back.
"Probably from five or six years old he expressed an interest in martial arts. He naturally gravitated towards it.”
Cooper was eight when he started learning muay thai and Brazilian jiu jitsu in February 2017 and he has flourished under trainers Ferdie Galguierra and Simone Offord.
This year he has decided to focus solely on muay thai and this weekend he will step into the ring for the second fight of his fledgling career at Rocky Rumble 19 Part II at Callaghan Park.
Cooper, now 10, will take on Nate Hansell from The Muay Thai College in Gracemere in one of 15 fights on the program.
The youngster is excited about taking centre stage at the popular fight night, and is feeling good about his prospects.
"I haven't fought this opponent before so hopefully we can give up a good fight,” Cooper said.
"I always wanted to do martial arts and always wanted to do some kind of contact sport like this.
"I've had just the one fight before. I lost, but I tried my hardest.
"I really like training and I most enjoy the adrenalin.”
Cooper believes his greatest strengths are his power and agility.
Trainer Galguierra says it's his enthusiasm, determination and aggression that sets him apart.
"He's a good trainer, he listens well and he never gives up.
"He has the ability to weather the storm and keep moving forward with punches and strikes.
"I'm expecting a win this weekend, definitely. I think he's got what it takes.”
Dale said Cooper was very determined and dedicated.
"He rarely misses a training day. He trains at Unison twice a week and we've got a home gym so he's in there three or four times a week doing strength training, boxing or running on the treadmill.
"He's very humble, he doesn't over-rate himself despite everyone behind him having so much confidence in him.”
Dale and wife Rachel will take their place in the grandstand at Rocky Rumble to watch Cooper battle it out in three two-minute rounds.
"I'll feel super proud, it will be an exciting moment,” Dale said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Rocky Rumble 19 Part II
WHERE: Callaghan Park, Rockhampton
WHEN: 5.30pm Saturday
ADMISSION: General standing $35, grandstand seated $50, ringside seated $70
INFORMATION: Razor Events Facebook page