In the months and weeks preceding the Colorado Muay Thai Association’s annual tournament, coaches explained that fighting was not a right. The students who hoped to compete would have to earn their place. Maddie Hayes, Chris Davidoff, Harrison Puscher, Mohammed Al-Aukili, Gwen Dannenbaum, Chet Morrell, Emma Langdon, Donny McSherry, Matt Bloss, and Drew Calvo all proved that had what it takes to step into the ring. With a full squad of Easton coaches wrapping hands and warming up fighters, the tournament kicked off on Sunday, April 17 for an action-packed day of fights.
Due to a small number of competitors, the Advanced and Beginner divisions for the Easton girls’ bracket were combined. Gwen Dannenbaum and Emma Langdon would both fight advanced fighters in their first-ever bouts, with Gwen advancing to the finals and Emma showing a great deal of heart, but ultimately losing the decision. Though Gwen put on a clinic in the finals against the same opponent, scoring with tons of sharp push kicks and keen boxing, the decision went her opponent’s way.
Harrison Puscher put on a great performance, landing lots of punches and hard leg kicks, but lost a close decision to his opponent. Mohammed Al-Aukili earned two knockdowns against his elimination bout opponent, and won the unanimous decision, advancing to the finals with Harrison’s opponent. Mohammed finished the fight in the first round with a vicious headkick, earning the championship. Drew Calvo showed what it means to never say die when his opponent earned a knockdown against him, coming back to brutalize his leg and even the score with an 8-count of his own before securing the decision.
Matt Bloss originally won by decision, but in a bizarre turn of events, was informed that one judge had scored the bout incorrectly and was made to return his championship medal. Chris Davidoff showed everyone his switch kick is no joke, earning an eight count with strikes to the liver on the way to a unanimous decision victory and the title in his division. Chet Morell displayed great control of distance and landed tons of hard uppercuts on the way to his first win, but was caught with a big right hand in the finals and suffered a TKO. Maddie Hayes faced the locally known, experienced “Li’l Hulk,” and displayed crisp clinch techniques, and brutal round kicks on her way to the championship win. Donald McSherry finished out the evening with an explosive bout, displaying amazing cardio, and landing tons of big shots, but the judges felt his opponent took the win.
At the end of the day, every fighter from Easton had the guts to step into the ring and fight. For many of them, their first performance came against opponents with much more experience, and they shone under pressure. Easton coaches Tony Cummings, Sean Madden, Tyler Toner, Dan Wilson, Terrence Moore, Steve Eisman and Kevin Paynter proved their abilities as instructors with great performances and stellar conditioning from all the competitors. In the end, the victory of fighting is less about the “trophy” and more about the journey toward and achievement of a goal. In that sense, each of these Easton students is a victor. Congratulations are due to all!