Western Leader : February 22nd 2011
www.westernleader.co.nz Tuesday, February 22, 2011 3 OPEN DAY MARCH 2 BOARDING AVAILABLE for Boys & Girls BR - j5765/02 UCKPV MGPVKIGTP EQNNGIG SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE - APPLICATIONS CLOSE 6 APRIL Register to attend 09 577 0677 www.saintkentigern.com Champ moves to Ranui By TUREI MACKEY West warrior: Muay Thai kickboxer Faisal Zakaria is the WBC international heavyweight champion. Photo: TUREI MACKEY MUAY Thai kickboxer Faisal Zakaria has roamed the world for 20 years honing the art of fighting. And now the 37-year-old has made Ranui his home. Zakaria, who competes under the name Diamond Flyer, holds the WBC Muay Thai international heavy- weight belt which he won last year in Thailand. He is hoping to defend his title later this year in Auck- land and begin teaching Muay Thai, African and hip hop dance classes in Te Atatu. Zakaria was born and raised in Sudan and repres- ented his country in karate. He left in 1990 after politi- cal unrest that included a military coup in 1989. In Sudan you always have the politics and I decided when I was 17 that I didn't want to stay because of the government,'' he says. He went to Egypt and kick- started a life of travel. He created a karate school in Libya with other Sudanese ex-pats and trained and tutored in Syria, Greece, Tur- key and Lebanon. It was in Lebanon that Zakaria was introduced to the Muay Thai fighting style. The Lebanese Karate Association introduced me to some Muay Thai courses and then I got invited to Thailand to train,'' he says. So I went to Bangkok and within six months I was fighting professionally,'' he says. He built up a strong follow- ing in Thailand with his entertaining style winning him many fans. I love Thailand. I feel I have a stronger relationship with the Thai people more than the people in Sudan.'' He also fell in love with New Zealand after meeting his wife, and now manager, Caitalin. The pair met in 2004 when Zakaria was in Auckland for a match against a Kiwi fighter. They started up a gym in Thailand and lived briefly in Japan before moving back to Auckland for good. When I was young I always wanted to live in a place like Canada. But after coming to New Zealand in 2004 I would be happy to live the rest of my life here.'' The champion fighter has no plans to retire yet. I'll go as long as possible because I still feel fit. So I'm not looking five or six years ahead. I love this game.'' Go to www.western leader.co.nz to watch Faisal Zakaria win his heavyweight title.
February 18th 2011
February 24th 2011