Kenilworth’s serial belt hunters

Kenilworth-based Fighterz Inc's strength and conditioning coach Fidaah Edries, centre, shares some inspiration with Junaid Fredericks, left, and Faeez Jacobs.

A serial belt hunter, Faeez has claimed four titles and three belts in the last 10 months.

The Troublemaker upset the home crowed when he knocked out Thaiholics’ Michael Clacher, at the Goodwood Correctional Services, to claim the PFC Promotion 60kg Pro belt at PFC7.

And, the Hand Grenade’s explosive hands earned him a victory by judges decision, in his first boxing bout at PFC7 – which also had Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fights on the night.

Their mental and strength conditioning coach, Fidaah Edries, said the duo has come a long way in a short space of time.

And, that they both are admirers of the three-time world heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali, who died last Friday.

He said that when the two fighters warmed up prior to their fights, they’d utter some of their favourite quotes by Ali, among other the one that says: “Champions have to have the skill and the will, but the will must be stronger than the skill.”

The Troublemaker has exceeded all expectations on the SA kickboxing scene.

He beat the number one ranked kickboxer in South Africa at the SA championships in Pretoria, last month. And, knocked out veteran kickboxer, Lucky van der Mokata from Young Guns to win the vacant South African Kickboxing Association (SAKA) sanctioned belt.

“I’m a three belt champion now and the number one kickboxer in SA. Last year, I said I wanted to get one belt, and I did that. This year’s goal was to add another three belts, and I’ve already won two.

“In my 10 months of kickboxing, I’ve cleaned out the 63kg division and am thinking of moving over to boxing. I’d like to get ranked as the number one boxer in SA as well, then move to MMA,” said Faeez.

“I had a great battle with Lucky and learnt a lot from that fight. It was just what I needed and it took me to the next level.

“He had a lot of ring control and different movements because of his vast experience.

“I had 10 days to prepare for his fight, and managed to get the knockout in the fifth round.

“Everything changed for me after this fight – my ring control, positioning, and little things that I wasn’t aware of before.

“After watching the fight, I also learnt how to apply my tactics a lot faster, which led to the quick knockouts at the SA Champs and against Clacher,” he said.

In the fight against Clacher, he said despite getting caught with a couple of sweeps in the first round, it wasn’t a big concern as he stepped up a gear to get the knockout in the second.

“Michael was fast in predicting my kicks. He was also able to block and catch my kicks, which was something he exposed in my game.

“In the second round I took a couple of punches and we had a some exchanges. Then, at one point he was on the ropes and I banged the left hook and caught him square on the chin,” he said.

Sparring partner, Junaid, said it took a bit of adjusting in the ring when he made his boxing debut.

“I was supposed to fight a 60kg junior but ended up fighting a senior. I went the full three rounds and won via points. There were moments when I wanted to kick, but I had to keep reminding myself I was in a boxing fight,” said Junaid jokingly.

“I met Fidaah while doing a youth at risk programme, four years ago. And, when we heard he was into kickboxing, we asked him to teach us a couple of moves.

“We started with some basic drills in his garage and everyday when we got there, we had to hang up the punching bag and setup up the free weights. All the guys who started with me have all dropped out, so I’m the last man standing,” he said.

Fidaah, who is also their mental coach, said that mental training is also part of their training at Fighterz Inc.

“Faeez has always gone up against stronger and more experienced fighters. But, his will and determination has been much stronger,” said Edries.

“He joined us eight months ago and I could already see on the first day that he was something special. He’s the hardest worker in the gym, he’s always first in and the last one to leave.

“Junaid has been with us from the start. Initially he and some of his friends asked me to teach them some kickboxing, because they found out I was involved in the sport. The 10 of them started out in my garage and today, one year later, we are 55 members with 17 fighters.

“We had a boot camp to raise funds for training gear and equipment.

“After three months of boot camps, they entered into a tournament where each of them won their fights.

“After their first taste in the ring, they couldn’t wait to enter their next competition, and that’s when we decided to start up Fighters Inc, in Kenilworth,” he said.

Young Junaid said the challenge of going up against stronger and more skilled fighters is what keeps him coming back to the gym. His next fight will be a K1 bout on Saturday July 30, and said he’ll walk into the ring the same way as always, humming the words of the one who called himself the Greatest, “I am going to show you how great I am.”