MUAY Thai boxer Erik Miskle has had to kick 10 kilos — in a hurry.
Since January 9, he hasn't had a day off training as he trimmed to a 62-kilogram limit for an eight-man knockout tournament in Melbourne on Friday. It is only 1.5 kilos below his regular fighting weight but as he puts it, he had a great Christmas.
Miskle, of Chadstone, has lots of legitimate weapons to use in his fights: his fists, elbows, knees and feet. Unlike a boxer, a Muay Thai fighter can legally aim below the belt.
In these fights, shins can be broken by feet, and faces cut open by elbows.
In the flurry of blows, Miskle's "corner" — his trainer and supporters — are barking instructions when they see an opening in his opponent's defence. They could yell "elbow, knee" and if he's quick enough with the combo, it works.
Miskle's confidence is rising. He has won 14 of his 19 competition fights, including seven knockouts, and matched accomplished fighters in Thailand.
He's put down previously undefeated Brazilian champ Manuel Dias and pushed two-time former world champion Kampan Santaweesook to the brink.
He is set to fight for a national junior welterweight title in April.
"I've learnt I can go the distance with fighters of their calibre," he says. "But after the [Kampan] fight, I couldn't walk the next day."
Miskle says he's been lucky with injuries, but he's still had to "push past the pain barrier".
He's fought with a chipped bone in his right foot, not wanting to let people down by cancelling.
"One thing I have is determination. I believe I push harder than others. I go past the pain barrier."
Miskle says he puts aside fear of injury. "The bills have to be paid. And there's not a lot of money for the sport."
Friday's tournament, the Rebellion Muay Thai 5, holds an alluring $10,000 prize. Miskle must beat three rivals. Each match is three rounds of three minutes. It is on at Melbourne Exhibition Centre from 6pm.