Talented trio make Thai title shortlist
IPSWICH will be front-and-centre at this year's Australian Muay Thai Awards, after five members of the Corporate Box Gym were short-listed by the national competition.
Dean Wood, Apisit Ktgym and Sue Gullery are members of the Ipswich branch, and will join Brisbane nominees Aaron Smith and Brad Traynor, when voting opens for the annual awards on Saturday.
Despite a long history of producing top Muay Thai talent, Corporate Box Ipswich owner Kurtis Pegoraro said this would be the highest number of entrants the gym has ever received.
"The public vote for who they want to be in it and they choose who is the most popular,” Pegoraro said. "We are probably a favourite for the fight of the year and for trainer of the year.
"Api fought Michael Johnson who is the number one lightweight in Australia, at one of our Brisbane meets and that is the highest ranked fight in the fight of the year category.”
The other Ipswich favourite is Aaron 'Azzatron' Smith, whose death only a month ago sent shock-waves through the Corporate Box community.
At just 41 years old, the young father and avid trainer passed away suddenly from a sudden pulmonary embolism caused by a blot clot in his lungs.
Still mourning his loss, Pegoraro said the Australian award for trainer of the year would be a fitting tribute to a well-loved and respected man.
"Azzatron was the head trainer in Brisbane and his passing was pretty unexpected,” he said. "We've got our fingers crossed because it would be good to win that for him. It would be a nice send-off.”
Brisbane also has fellow-nominee Brad Traynor in the male fighter of the year category, but it is Ipswich with three nominees who lead the way.
Recently appointed as manager of the Ipswich gym, Dean Wood is up for young trainer of the year. Born and bred in Ipswich, the 30-year-old has a special touch for working with juniors.
"He's only just started as manager but he's been working with us for a while now,” Pegoraro said. "He's a good calm fella and great with kids.
"He's trained one of the Australian champions who got second in the World Games so he's got plenty of experience.”
The final member of the Ipswich Corporate Box trio is Sue Gullery. A former kick-boxer who took her photography hobby into the gym, the woman behind SMGullery Combat Sport is up for photographer of the year.
With her history inside the ring, Pegoraro said Gullery had the right experience to know when to catch the perfect moment on camera.
"Sue trains with us at the gym and started doing her photography at some of our events,” he said. "Like any art-based job photography doesn't pay very well but she just does it for fun and because she wants to get a great photo.
"It's hard to be a combat photographer without being a fighter yourself because everything happens so quickly. It's great to see her in there and I know she's just happy to be there too.”
Voting for the Australian Muay Thai Awards opens this Saturday, with the winners to be announced at the Crowne Plaza on January 14.
Australian Muay Thai Award nominees:
Brad Traynor - Male fighter of the year (Brisbane)
Azzatron Smith - Trainer of the year (Brisbane)
Apisit Ktgym - Fight of the year (Ipswich)
Dean Wood - Youth trainer of the year (Ipswich)
Sue Gullery - Photographer of the year (Ipswich)