Bang Bang

23 Mar

      Though, in the past, I’ve opined on my dislike of tournament formats when it comes to professional combat sports, occasionally such things have a way of working out just right, as they did Friday night for Francois “Bang Bang” Ambang. Ambang won the Road to Glory 170 pound kickboxing tournament at promoter Lou Neglia’s Combat at the Capitale show in New York via a furious second round knockout of Brett Hlavacek in the finals of an eight man single elimination event.
      The two best fighters in the field, Ambang and Hlavacek met in the finals equally rested – or equally exhausted if you like – after both going the full three rounds in their two semi-final match-ups. But Ambang showed himself to be a cut above everyone else. After displaying some vicious body punching in his opening round match-up, and some tough clinch work in his semi-final bout, the muscular Ambang, originally from Cameroon, used devastating leg kicks to soften up Hlavacek. He then hurt him with a kick to the body and opened up with a last violent flurry of punches forcing the referee to step in and stop the fight at 2:53 of the second round.
      Glory, the would-be successor to K-1 as the biggest kickboxing promotion in the world, was using the event to find and groom upcoming talent from the U.S. to step up onto the world stage. But what made the tournament special was that it wasn’t just the best fighter who won, it was that the most deserving guy won.
      Ambang, 26, grew up in the impoverished country of Cameroon starting as a fighter at age fifteen and competing in both boxing and kickboxing. It was while visiting the United States as an amateur boxer five years ago, he saw an opportunity to better his (and his family’s) life by staying here.
      “It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done,” he said of leaving his two children and the rest of his family behind in Cameroon.
      Speaking no English, Ambang worked full-time to support himself at various jobs like delivery man while attempting to carry on careers in pro boxing, professional kickboxing and mixed martial arts, all with the goal of being able to build his family a house back in Cameroon.
      Back there, he said he would usually earn $5 for a fight. The most he ever made fighting in Cameroon was $20 for making it to the finals of a 16 man tournament. Friday night, he made $20,000 for his tournament win in the Road to Glory. He said his goal now is to bring his children over here to be with him.
      The right guy won the tournament for a change.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: