Meet the underground miner who is a kickboxing world champ
Matt Stapleford is a Hunter Valley local, electrician at North Wambo Underground Mine, MEU member, and kickboxing world champion.
Last month, Matt defended his title as the WKF PRO World Champion title in K-1 rules kickboxing in Austria, against a local kickboxer from Vienna, making him the reigning professional world champion.
In the Austrian tournament, Matt won on points, meaning that the decision went to the judges after five rounds.
We spoke to him about his kickboxing career and his journey to becoming a world champion.
“I was involved in some amateur boxing fights as a kid, and I transitioned into kickboxing after an interesting one-off fight,” said Matt.
Around ten years ago, Matt had the opportunity to fight the current world champion at the time as an amateur.
“It was my first kick boxing fight, and the guy had been in over 100 fights, so it was a mismatch, and I obviously wasn’t supposed to win but I did.”
Matt said that the victory was a surprise to everyone, although he didn’t get away completely unharmed.
“I busted up my leg pretty badly, and I was injured for three months, but that was the start of my kickboxing career.”
Matt says that kickboxing is a very physical and mental game, and his training style is to train like he fights. To train for kickboxing fights, Matt does high intensity training sessions, bag work, sparring bag punching and bag kicking.
In the lead up to a fight, Matt goes on a strict diet, and two days before a fight he refrains from eating and drinking to prepare for the weigh in, which is no small feat.
When asked if there were any similarities between kickboxing and mining, Matt said that underground work is complimentary to his training as it is physical work and requires a great deal of discipline.
“Actually, crib is very helpful because when I’m underground it means I can only eat what’s in my crib tin, so that means that I’m eating right because that’s all I have,” Matt laughed.
Matt has shown determination, grit and discipline and we congratulate him on defending the world title. We keenly await his next championship.