The Big Interview: Powers’ pride as Blyne Armitage lands international belt

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“I’ve put blood, sweat and tears into this and I was over the moon when I won the title. This is what I have been training for my whole life and I was so proud to represent this gym on an international stage.”

Introducing Blyne Armitage, the 16-year-old Sheffielder trained by world champion Alex Mackenzie and head coach Richard Hepworth. He is aiming to take the K1 kickboxing world by storm after recently winning his first major competion; the International Prestige Junior Belt, which became his after he beat Belgium fighter Yassin Azaal. K-1 kickboxing is a combat sport that combines the most effective standing-up fighting strategies; including fbare knuckle karate, Kung Fu, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Savate and traditional boxing. The Hillsborough College student started at Powers martial arts centre when he was just four years old and here, he answers questions from Grass Roots’ Ruth Dacey, pictured left.

How did you get into the sport?

My Dad wanted me to take up an activity that would keep me fit and healthy and had heard great things about Powers gym. Me and my brother went along and I just fell in love with everything about the place and K-1 because of how many different styles of fighting it combines even though I was so young when I started. I then reached a position where I had to decide whether I wanted to be really serious and committed about the sport but it wasn’t difficult for me because it’s something that just came naturally and I wanted to see just how far I could get.

How did you prepare before your International Prestige title?

I had already taken part in some smaller fights so in all honesty I wasn’t nervous, I just wanted to make the most of the opportunity and put everything I had done in training into that ring. I had worked especially hard in the few months leading up to the fight - in a usual week I will train 5-6 hours but that increased as the date got nearer. Then on the day I just made sure that I got into the zone and importantly focused as soon as I stood up there to fight.

What did it feel like to win the fight (competing at 52kg weight)?

It was completely overwhelming because it’s been a very fast learning curve for me and I didn’t expect to be up there competing for such a big title so soon. But overall I was the much better fighter on the day so I was just relieved when the decision went my way after the rounds. I made sure to play to my strengths – I have a very strong kick so I picked up a lot of points using low hard shots to my opponent.

It was a very difficult fight because my Belgium fighter came at me from the beginning but I made sure to be disciplined and stick to the plan I had set out to do which was targeting the lower body. I was so proud for the gym and that I could represent Sheffield at such a high level.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I want to reach my full potential and be a World Champion one day. I have the dedication and the ambition and so I’ll just have to see how far it gets me. Everybody at Power’s gym has supported me all the way and with their backing and my families I really believe I can get far. I also hope to encourage young people into the sport because it’s such a great activity to take up and you don’t have to do to go all the way and compete, it’s a great way to keep fit and healthy and more people should get into it.

n Blyne’s next fight will be in May where he will be competing for an area title and the talented youngster is currently looking for sponsorship to aid with the training and dietary requirements. Interested parties are asked to contact Paul Powers, the co-owner of Powers Gym with wife Susan, on 07831763688 or visit www.powersmartialarts.co.uk.