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Anne Photograp News 2024

Lee Matthews strikes with a new martial arts show
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Lee Matthews strikes with a new martial arts show

The Strike Fight

Telford native and former kickboxing champion Lee Matthews, ex-Olympic Taekwondo athlete Damon Sansum and 2001 IASKA World Championship winner Andy Cleeves will headline the event in Shropshire.

The trio have been working together for a number of years and set out to create the show, which Matthews hopes will be groundbreaking in the field of martial arts.

“Absolutely – (it could be groundbreaking),” Matthews said. “This applies to all mat sports, because mat sports have some of the best athletes in the world right now, but you can’t become a professional fighter unless you’re on the Olympic taekwondo team, for which you don’t get paid much.

Ex-Olympic Taekwondo athlete Damon Sansum.

“Alternatively, they should switch and go to boxing, MMA or UFC, which is a different path. It takes many years of retraining to reach that point.

“What we want to do is create a new path for people from mat sports backgrounds to become professional fighters.

“These are all positives and if this works as well as we hope, then we’ll look for a 10-fight deal with one of the major broadcasters and then roll that out so we can get involved on a bigger level .”

Thirty-six fighters, all champions in their own disciplines, will compete against each other at the SFX with more than 300 titles between them.

More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the event, with room for a potential television audience of more than one million, with the show airing live on Triller.

Matthews concluded: “It’s kind of a hybrid MMA, but there’s no wrestling. It’s up to the best world-class attackers to compete in 8oz gloves in a hybrid ruleset that allows all different styles to fight with this one set of rules.

“So these are the very best attackers in the world. Grappling is effective, but it also keeps fighters from being able to express themselves with kicks as often, due to the risk of being knocked down and then grappled, which is a completely different art form.

“People will see some of the most beautiful things they’ve ever seen because we’ve set the stage for them to go all out.”