Bloody battle fought

By Grace Jones | posted on October 6, 2018

LOCAL martial arts teacher Daniel McGrath returned from Japan recently after coaching American mixed martial arts fighter Will “The Kill” Chope at a top-level Lethwei tournament.

Lethwei is a Burmese bare-knuckle boxing full contact sport known for being one of the most aggressive and brutal martial arts in the world, mainly because it allows fighters to head-butt their opponents.

McGrath said Chope performed well for his first foray into the bloody sport, while wearing his Albany Fight Fit Martial Arts Centre clobber.

“Will has done heaps of MMA, UFC and Muay Thai style fighting in the past,” he said.

“When he called me to ask if I would coach him for his first Lethwei match I couldn’t book my plane tickets quick enough.”

Chope faced off against seasoned Lethwei fighter Shan Ko, who originates from the sports birthplace, Myanmar.

“It’s a brutal sport and pretty bloody,” McGrath said.

“There wasn’t a win for the night since there weren’t any knock-outs.

“Will’s legs were pretty cut up from Shan’s kicks but he managed to get in a few head-butts and a knee to Shan’s face.

“Shan is one tough-as-nails guy.”

McGrath said the atmosphere in Japan’s famous martial arts arena, the Korakuen Hall, was electric.

“To meet other fighters of that level was incredible,” he said.

“I think Will is the second Westerner to fight Lethwei and he’s already lining up a fight for next year.”

McGrath said he first met Chope around eight years ago at the well-known Tiger Muay Thai gym in Phuket, Thailand.

“I was training in Thailand and it was an experience and a half,” he said.

“It really took me to a whole other level.

“Will heard that I was doing some crazy kicks at the gym and sought me out. I had no idea who he was at the time.”

The teacher became the student not long afterwards, with Chope coaching McGrath through his first fight.

“We’ve coached each other over the years and become great mates,” he said.

“Will even came to my gym for a few months earlier this year and ran some classes.

“The kids absolutely loved him.”

McGrath said Chope would return to the MMA scene next month in Seoul, Korea.

“I’m hoping to coach him there as well,” he said.

“To have him represent our gym on the global martial arts stage is an honour and the least I could do is coach him.”