Kayla Wihongi completed her maiden fight on Saturday.
Kayla Wihongi completed her maiden fight on Saturday. Claudia Alp

Wihongi makes debut in inaugural female bout

AIRLIE Beach's Kayla Wihongi stepped out of the ring with nothing but pride following her first fight in the Girudala Boxing Tournament last Saturday.

Wihongi made her debut against Mackay Boxing Club fighter Jessie King in the welterweight division, three rounds of 90 seconds each.

The 25-year-old athlete had less than two weeks to prepare after she found out she was going to face her first competitive opponent, but said she was proud of herself despite not taking home the win.

"Everything went through my head from 'forget about everyone' to 'just focus'. The first round was a little bit intense and shocking, but I couldn't have asked for a better opponent,” Wihongi said.

"She came in at me and we both got a few good hits in each. She won it, but I'm very proud of myself and how I stood.

"My proudest moment was in the second round when I managed to block a few in a row and counter her punches. It was thrilling. It was definitely a moment to remember.

"In the end, the most nerve-racking part wasn't even in the ring, it was the walk up to the ring before the fight.”

Wihongi has trained at Prior's Boxing Gym for almost two years with coach Gareth Prior.

In the lead-up to the fight, she was training twice a day, working on boxing technique and endurance.

Her maiden fight was part of the inaugural womens' match-up which was included in this year's tournament to promote female participation in a traditionally male-dominated sport.

Wihongi said she was thrilled that she had been given the opportunity to get in the ring since finding opponents in her age and weight range in the area was challenging.

"I've been chasing it for quite some time so I wasn't going to pass it up when it got offered to me,” she said.

"It was quite a hype up for everyone who was there. Everyone was so excited and so supportive. More woman need to get into it.”

Wihongi said the fight was a motivator and she was looking into two upcoming fights. "I'm just going to keep moving forward, keep pushing, keep challenging and keep taking on more fights if I can,” she said.


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