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Muay Thai fighters backed to impress at Tournament of Champions

Out to impress: Bermuda Muay Thai fighters Ashton Bell, left, Ashleigh Mayo, and Jay Astwood, who make up three of the four-team contingent competing at the Tournament of Champions in Columbus, Ohio

Coach Chuck Morgan has backed Bermuda’s Muay Thai fighters to enhance their reputation at the Tournament of Champions in Columbus, Ohio, starting on Thursday.

A four-member team made up of Ashton Bell, Jay Astwood, Ashleigh Mayo and Trevor Smith will be in action at the prestigious event at the Arnold Sports Festival, which attracts some of the best fighters from across the United States, Canada, Sweden, United Kingdom, Jamaica, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.

For Bell, who will be competing in the 165lb super-middleweight division, it is an opportunity to try and gain his second title at the event after he claimed the super-middleweight crown in the novice division in his debut at the tournament in Iowa in 2021.

“We are heading to the tournament hoping to give a good account of ourselves and show what Bermuda Muay Thai is all about,” said Morgan, the WBC Muay Thai Bermuda chairman.

“This is definitely within the top five events held in North America and for sure it’s a very prestigious one for us to be involved in.

“It is definitely a chance for us to further put Bermuda on the map. We are already well known within the region and so I’m confident that we will compete at a high level again for sure.

“We may be a small island, but we always punch well above our weight and we want to show that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

While Morgan has high expectations, he is also aware that the event will serve as an opportunity to gain experience for the likes of Mayo, in the 112lb strawweight class and Smith (186lb light-cruiserweight class), who will be making his competitive debut at this level.

“We’re hopeful of performing well and I also know it will be a chance of some good experience as well, because we don’t get as much opportunity to test ourselves as some of the other clubs,” he added.

“We will be looking to lean on the more experienced fighters in Ashton and Jay [159lb middleweight class] but I also think the others can match up well against the other fighters and give a good account.

“Ashleigh competed last year and came out just slightly short so she has an idea of what to expect, but for Trevor this is really his first taste of competition.

“However, he’s very athletic and very well trained and so I’m confident he’ll do well.”

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Published February 28, 2024 at 7:58 am (Updated February 28, 2024 at 8:24 am)

Muay Thai fighters backed to impress at Tournament of Champions

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