In a sensational double triumph for Motherwell-based coach Stevie Nisbet, two of his pupils have become Scottish champions at Thai boxing, writes Craig Goldthorp.
James MacKenzie (16), the UK Muay Thai number one at 67kg, further proved his prowess recently by landing the Scottish crown at the same weight.
And his achievements have now been matched by clubmate Gareth Mitchell (23), also a member at Hamilton-based gym Sit Ayuthaya, who has become Scottish Muay Thai champion at 61kg.
James’ proud dad Iain told the Times and Speaker: “This is a big achievement for a local gym to have two Scottish champions.
“There are only a few fighters at the gym but these two are the best by quite some way.
“James works very hard at it and is very dedicated.
“He has been doing Muay Thai since he was eight.
“No-one in Scotland comers near to him in Muay Thai at 67kg, but he now needs to expand to UK level by going to open tournaments south of the border.
“James has great determination, is very fit and doesn’t mind being hit!
“The training sessions are the only things in his life that he is on time for! He also trains at The Griphouse in Glasgow.
“Both guys have been out to Thailand a few times and are going back out in the summer.”
To show the dedication that is required to produce such outstanding results, James trains in Muay Thai for two hours each on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays before putting in another hour on Fridays.
This is despite the teenager’s commitments to studying for his Highers at Hamilton College. He also trains at weekends, doing one hour of Muay Thai each Saturday in addition to two hours of judo.
When James’s exams are finished, he will start training every day, including for two weeks in Thailand in June.
The youngster plans to go on to do a sports coaching HND course at Motherwell College before going to university.
Muay Thai bouts typically consist of five rounds of two minutes each.
James and Gareth are affiliated to the UK Muay Thai Federation.