Cebu Tournament: Part 2
by Jeff ”Stickman” Finder
My second opponent in the ‘ 89 WEKAF championships was Dean Hart, captain of the Australian team. Dean was a tough fighter and the favorite to win the light-heavyweight division. His #2 strike was heavy baggage indeed. The first time he unloaded one on the side of my helmet, I saw stars. I thought “Oh my GOD, I’m NOT going to let him do THAT again!” From that point on, I didn’t care what else he did; every time he cocked his right hand back to drop that hammer on me, I jammed it as hard as I could with my check hand and smacked his hand HARD. It wasn’t that his other strikes weren’t strong, just not so completely devastating. I later learned that back in Australia during training, he had broken welds on the face masks of the helmets. Later, on his way to victory in the open weight class, he knocked a couple of fighters cold.
Anyway, by taking away his best weapon, I was able to win a minority decision. I think one judge had me ahead and two thought it was a draw. It was so close that one of my own coaches thought I should have lost, and told the Australians that if they protested the decision, we wouldn’t fight it. To his credit, Dean was a great sport and said “No, let it stand.” One thing I was reminded of was this: in any event in which they compete, expect the Australians to be the best conditioned athletes there.
He pulled one move on me in the middle of the fight that was brilliant, and if the rules had been interpreted a little more liberally, would have won the fight for him. At one point, I backed Dean off, then stepped in towards him. He dropped his head and thrust a head butt right into the center of my chest. Caught completely by surprise, it took me right off my feet. It was a brilliant street fighter’s move, but was disallowed. It was a show stopper and sure got my attention!
I think that was the toughest fight I ever had, and when it was over, I kept sweating for hours. Unfortunately, my next fight was called in about 15 minutes. Since I had been sitting for a day and a half, with my first two fights about 5 hours apart, I was a bit upset about this, especially since my opponent was fresher and there were two other divisions not yet started. Still dripping with sweat, I went to Dioni Canete, who was the tournament arbitrator, and got an extra 30 minute rest.
In the finals I met Gary Derrick from England. Gary reminds me of Eric Knaus (Top Dog). He’s tall and rangy, quick with good skills. Gary’s main art, so I was told, is Pentjak Silat, with Escrima on the side. This fight was the least memorable for me in this event, probably because I was so tired. The combination of jet lag, heat, humidity and unfamiliar diet were starting to catch up with me. Since it was the finals, I knew I had at least second place, but I didn’t want to let down.
Near the end of the first round, I threw an upward forehand sweep towards Gary, trying to hit under his hands. He countered by coming straight down with the butt of his weapon on my thumb. My stick popped out and just lay there at my feet. After that round, Fred Degerberg told me I had to disarm Gary to get back in the fight. Try as I could, though, I never succeeded. I think he was the only fighter I never disarmed even once over there.
Gary won this fight by majority decision; two judges had him ahead by a single point and one had us even. I later learned the referee had instructed the judges to take away 2 points for the disarm, which was wrong; it was only a 1 point technique. Had this error been caught, I think I might have won a minority decision (2 even and one judge for me). As it was, I was given a 1st place trophy, a Kampilan, instead of the 2nd place Kris. A lot of people later asked why I had that, but I wasn’t going to argue with officials after all that work.