MEDICINE HAT, AB – In another life, Pietro de Andrade and Bruce Foerster made their marks in the ‘Gas City’ with their talents on the basketball court and the baseball diamond.
But on Saturday night, it was their performance inside the ring that brought hometown fans to their feet at Fists of Fury 15 at the Cypress Centre.
Foerster and de Andrade earned gold medals in their respective fights, helping the local SACA kickboxing club pick up a pair of wins on the biggest annual night for local martial arts.
Competing in Saturday’s co-main event, de Andrade used his imposing height and reach to keep Calgary’s Tomislav Viskovic at bay to win by unanimous decision (3-0).
“What actually helped me was the ability to keep calm,” said de Andrade. “For the first time I was able to keep myself calm for the entire fight. Also, the different types of training that I got prior to this fight, having the chance to train with other heavyweights.”
Despite giving up 30 pounds in the fight, the 260 pound de Andrade was able to stretch his undefeated record to 5-0 with his win over Viskovic.
A former star with the Medicine Hat College men’s basketball program, de Andrade has created a cult hero persona over the last few years in the ring and even hopped on the microphone after Saturday’s bout to thank the fans in attendance.
It’s the reaction from the fans that the Brazilian said keeps him coming back.
“It’s quite hard to explain,” he said. “I thought that playing basketball was something that was so unique, but in fighting it depends only on myself. It’s such a great joy and having people yelling your name and cheering you up, that’s definitely something incredible.”
For Foerster, Saturday’s unanimous decision (3-0) victory over Lethbridge’s Steve Jones was a culmination of months of training and preparation.
Co-owner of Temple Fitness, Foerster has spent the past year training with SACA lead instructor Jamie Droeske and took part in his first amateur fight back in February.
However, this weekend’s performance in front of his Medicine Hat supporters marked the first official bout of his career.
“It was everything I wanted to be honest with you,” said Foerster. “You play it out in your head and you obviously put yourself as the winner every time you play it out. That’s what gets you to prepare really hard and train, you just hope that it does play out that way and thankfully for me tonight it did.”
When comparing his training to finally entering the ring, the 230 pound heavyweight said it was a completely new experience.
“When you get in the ring, the spotlights are on you and everybody is cheering, it’s a totally different game,” said Foerster. “It’s easy to be relaxed in practice and it’s a much different story out here tonight. So, all that training helps to try to keep you as relaxed as possible.”
Like de Andrade, Foerster’s athletic background dates back years in Medicine Hat.
Pitching five years with the Medicine Hat Mavericks, Foerster heard his name chanted for the first time in years during his Fists of Fury performance.
“I miss that home crowd and that’s a big part of what brought me out to this,” said Foerster. “I wanted to compete in front of that crowd again and I was so glad that everybody turned out tonight. To support me like that is unbelievable, so I’m really appreciative of that and it’s a feeling that I’ll never forget.”
The season isn’t over for de Andrade, Foerster and SACA’s other fighters though, as further events are scheduled this summer in Calgary and Airdrie.
Between now and then, de Andrade said he wants to expand his fighting style to include more variety in his striking.
“The part that I want to improve is bringing my jab with something else,” said de Andrade. “I’m confident throwing my jab, but sometimes I’m thinking because I’m very conservative fighting. So, now the next step for my performance is literally getting those combinations together.”
Veteran SACA fighter Talia St. Jacques saw her undefeated record snapped at Fists of Fury 15, losing a split-decision (1-2) contest to Calgary’s Hope Quinn to drop to 4-1-0 in her career.
In the 155 pound weight class, Medicine Hat fighter Dakota Wells lost his first career bout to Riley Durocher out of Lethbridge by unanimous decision (0-3).
Fellow SACA member Erika Miller was due to fight after missing last year’s Fists of Fury event due to injury, however her Calgary opponent in Alma Ledoucer was forced to withdraw last minute.
Foerster added even though they only took home two gold medals, the SACA kickboxing name is becoming more well known throughout Alberta and western Canada.
“To bring five hometown fighters in an event where there’s less than 10 fights, that’s pretty awesome that you can represent that well,” said Foerster. “That’s why we get such a turnout.”
In the other co-main event, Cody Jerome from Lethbridge improved his career record to 17-7 with a victory over Winnipeg’s Jordan Sasely.
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