MMA achieving cross culture diversity other sports only dream of

  • 08/11/2019

The Kiwi team for Friday nights "King in the Ring" kickboxing series reflects the changing face of New Zealand.

While mainstream sports struggle to show our growing diversity at elite levels, a squad of Maori, Zimbabwean, Iranian and Filipino kiwis demonstrates fighting is all-inclusive.

"The language we speak between these four walls is combat," Mike 'Blood' Diamond told Newshub. 

City Kickboxing prospect Diamond says their culture welcomes athletes from minority backgrounds when outside they still face racism.

"Coming from where the majority are black and the minority are white, to the exact opposite, it was mind-blowing."

He was bullied when his family moved from Zimbabwe to Marlborough in search of a better life.

"Everyone from Marlborough Boys College - y'all know yourselves." Diamond said of his former bulliers. 

The suffering continued at university but his solace came when he started training in Auckland.

"You can be feeling down, but as soon as you walk in these four walls, we're all on the same page."

His teammates include heavyweight boxing contender Junior Fa, UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and fellow cage fighters Shane Young, Kai Kara France, Brad Riddell, Alex Volkanovski and Dan 'Hangman' Hooker.

The weight divisions allow for the body shapes of different ethnicities, but King in the Ring promoter Jason Suttie says the inclusivity is born from a shared experience.

"Some of my opponents you can't even speak to them because they are from a different country but you have mutual respect and you become great friends because you tried to knock each other's heads off and you know what it took to get there."

"As much as you can see from my skin I am black .. but I consider myself a kiwi and I've been adopted by the kiwis.

That's largely thanks to his sport's welcoming culture.


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