Langdon-based fighter Arek Thankachen had the hometown crowd on his side, and he used that to his advantage.
Getting his arm raised at the end of his amateur K1 kickboxing fight was their reward.
“Nothing beats that feeling,” said Thankachen about the fight he won June 24 at the Genesis Centre in Calgary.
“I trained so hard for it. The fight was three two-minute rounds with a minute break in between them. It’s only six minutes of fighting, which really isn’t that much but it feels like forever.
“You train so hard, hours and hours, just for that moment to get your hand raised at the end. Being able to have my friends and family there to see that was big for me.”
Thankachen has trained 23 years in karate and focused the last four years on kickboxing and Muay Thai. He’s a third-degree black belt in Goju Ryu Karate and first degree black belt in the Kurama Yama kickboxing system, and you can often find him helping hold pads at Oku Damashi Martial Arts in Langdon.
Martial arts are obviously in Arek’s blood as the dojo in Langdon is run by his mother Tammy, who was in his corner for his recent win over Grayson Morrison from Kamloops at the DEKADA Premier fight card.
Arek works with Sensei Paul Sukys at Kurama Yama-Go Performance Fitness Lab but he’s made a lot of friends in Langdon and plenty were there to cheer him on for his main event bout.
“There were a whole bunch of students down to watch,” Tammy Thankachen said. “Arek supports all of these kids in our dojo so they wanted to come out and show him the love and respect and support.
“They cheered really loud. When he came walking out, the cheering was really loud for him. When he won the fight, the place went nuts. It was super cool to be part of.
“Arek is so calm and cool and chilled out before a fight. He’s fought a few times. That puts me at ease. His skills give me confidence.
“He’s a good fighter and I can be calm too and give him support. I can really cheer him on and not get nervous. I’m just excited for him to showcase his talents. He’s an exciting fighter.”
Arek fought at 117 pounds, which is about 13 less than his normal weight, so to prepare for the bout it took plenty of discipline to watch what he was eating and to sweat out the water weight just before the weigh-ins.
That’s all part of the commitment Thankachen is making to compete.
“It takes some time for sure,” Arek said. “Personally, I like to start cutting the weight as soon as I start my training camp. Those can last anywhere from four to seven or eight weeks.
“In training camp, I’m cutting weight steadily instead of leaving it to the last couple of weeks. When fight week comes around, I only have five or six pounds to lose. Then I don’t feel drained when it comes to the weigh-ins.”
Arek and his brother Shaun have started a fundraising campaign so that they can attend the IKF World Classic Championships in Orlando, Fla., at the end of July.
Along with that trip, Arek is hoping to line up another bout for September, so there won’t be much in terms of vacation over the next couple of months.
“It’s going be a busy summer for sure,” Arek said.