FAIRFIELD — One trip across the country resulted in two winners.
BBDC Fight and Fitness kickboxers Eric Almarinez and Brandon Murray recently competed in the Amateur Muay Thai Kickboxing championship in Orlando, Fla., with each bringing home their respective weight class titles.
Almarinez, a fourth-grader at Laurel Creek Elementary, won both his matches in the boys’ 8-9-year-old division, while Murray claimed the Adult Men’s Open Division at 155 pounds.
Both of Almarinez’s wins came via TKO, stopping Brock Fringer, of Cottonwood, Ariz., 35 seconds into the first round, then Daniel Artinger, of Ontario, Canada, at the end of the opening round.
“I did a front kick that won both matches,” Almarinez said.
Almarinez, who only joined BBDC about six months ago and trains three days a week, noted that hard work was the key to his win.
“Sparing is the fun part,” he said. “I like going to practice all the time. I also wrestle. I used to play baseball and basketball, but it was kind of boring.”
BBDC trainer Dan “Bam Bam” Stell saw what he liked in Almarinez the first time he saw him.
“That kid is a natural athlete, a disciplined little kid,” Stell said. “He’s real dedicated. He wrestles also. (His father) just brought him in and he caught on real quick.
“(Eric’s win is) not really surprising. When I first saw him, I told his dad he will be my first kid champion. I knew right off the bat.”
After getting a first-round bye when his first opponent didn’t show up, Murray, who lives in Vacaville, defeated Okeechobee, Fla.’s Paswal Ruis by unanimous decision 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
“I was kind of shocked, I was just trying my hardest, I wasn’t thinking about winning or losing,” Murray said. “I worked hard and it paid off. I’m thankful to my family to let me train and I have a good coach (in Stell).
“It makes a world of difference (having a good trainer. “Bam Bam is a world-class trainer. To get to train under him is an honor. Having really good trainers made the difference.”
Stell also likes what he sees in Murray.
“Brandon, he’s a brawler, straight-forward fighter,” Stell said. “He’s just banging. (Winning this title) says a lot about all the hard work he put in.”
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.