FOUR years ago, he strapped on gloves for the first time and next month, Port Elizabeth fighter Cameron Pritchard will have a shot at winning a mixed martial arts title in Gauteng.
Less than three weeks ago, Pritchard, 24, competed at the seventh FightStar Fighting Championship, in Johannesburg, in what he called a “three-round war”.
He won the toughest fight of his professional amateur (pro-am) career against Jedri Koekemoer. Two months earlier, he fought at the previous FightStar event and defeated an opponent from a higher weight class, managing to score the upset when he choked the bigger fighter out after just four minutes.
“This isn’t just a hobby for me. I am 100% focused on my career as a fighter and I am in the fortunate position of loving my career.”
Now, in just a few more weeks, Pritchard will return to FightStar where he will face the undefeated JP van Rooyen for the pro-am welterweight title.
“I already feel ready for the fight, and now it’s just a matter of upping my game. My preparations are going well, but I want to be 10 times better than in my last fight. And if I win I won’t only win the title, but I can be the first one to beat Van Rooyen.”
Pritchard holds a pro-am record of eight wins and only one loss.
“I won my first two fights and felt invincible. But that third fight brought me down to earth. I lost and felt depressed, refusing to talk about it. For weeks I trained non-stop, wanting to prove that I am better than that loss I suffered.”
Evidently his hard work paid off, because he has not lost since, and is looking forward to taking the step from pro-am to full pro.
“I have sacrificed and suffered a lot to get where I am today. If someone said I can go back four years and choose a career, I would choose this again in a heartbeat. This place is my home, and these people are my family.”
His trainer, well-known fighter Chris Bright from Port Elizabeth Submission Fighting Academy, believes Pritchard will come home with the title.
“We train together two or three times a day, and Cam puts in probably four hours of work every day. He’s put in the time and effort and we look forward to welcoming him home with that belt around his waist.”
Pritchard praises Bright for all the time they spend training, and believes his trainer has a “very calming” presence that helps him stay focused during fights.
“He puts a lot of time into me, and he helps to get me focused before a fight. When I stand in the ring I feel ready for anything, and if I ever lose again I will know it was because of a mistake I made on the day.”
When Pritchard is not training he is a lifeguard at Pollok Beach or offers personal training sessions to pay the bills.
But that is only until his professional career takes off. – Riaan Marais