Fighter gathers army


An international fighter hopes to set up a mixed martial arts team in Queenstown.

Irshaad ‘White Tiger’ Sayed moved here from his native South Africa last year.

He spent the summer training for the Extreme Fighting Championship, which was held in South Africa in April.

Sayed, 27, beat compatriot Cedric Doyle to take the bantamweight title.

The champs are a mix between kick boxing, jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai and cage fighting.

He’s hoping to build a Queenstown MMA team for anyone with boxing experience.

The aim would be to compete locally with the potential to enter international comps in the future.

When he steps into the ring, Sayed says he’s not worried about broken bones - just about letting his coaches and sparring buddies down.

“The biggest part is the fear of losing.

“You put so much time and effort into a fight that can last only 15 minutes.

“You don’t want all that effort to go to waste, I think that’s the most overwhelming part of it all.”

Once the adrenaline kicks in, all nerves go out the window.

Sayed has been fighting since he was a youngster when his dad sent him to self-defence lessons.

After leaving school he decided to pack up and move to Thailand, spending day and night perfecting Muay Thai skills.

His teacher, or ‘kru’, saw his potential and signed him up for his first competition, the World Professional Muay Thai Federation title, which he won at 18.

Training was tough but it helped cement his reputation as a fighter.

His bouts were not restricted to Thailand.

He’s travelled and fought throughout most of Asia, securing the MMA Chinese national championship title in 2013. His next fight isn’t until November in South Africa.

Sayed’s training in Queenstown will include mountain runs as well as core strengthening in the gym.