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Martial arts: Local split decision

One area fighter wins and one loses at muay thai event; others fight late

Posted: August 14, 2010 10:35 p.m.
Updated: August 15, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Golden Valley High School student and muay thai fighter Anthony Lahn, left, competes against Ronald Cruz at the World Muay Thai Council World Championships on Saturday night at Saugus Speedway. Lahn lost the bout.

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It was a night of hard hits and loud music at Santa Clarita’s Saugus Speedway Saturday.

Hundreds gathered around a small ring in the middle of the large outdoor venue to watch the World Muay Thai Council World Championships, which included five fighters from the Santa Clarita Valley.

Vito Funicello, a 17-year-old who attends Saugus High School, kicked off the night for local fighters with a victory by unanimous 30-27 decision over Erick Gonzales.

In the fourth fight of the night and the second featuring a local fighter, Golden Valley High School student Anthony Lahn lost by decision to Ronald Cruz by scores of 30-26, 30-27 and 29-27. It was a back-and-forth match in the beginning, but Lahn simply ran out of steam in the third round.

Before the fight card started, tailgaters heard the sounds of local bands playing on a stage situated a few hundred feet behind the ring.

It was a boxing-like atmosphere complete with pre-fight rituals and dances, and a ringside announcer for the fans.

Funicello’s fight started quickly when he landed a solid right knee to the body of Gonzales in the first few seconds.

By the third round, the crowd was chanting “Vito” thanks to the most vocal section of the crowd, which consisted of Funicello’s friends and family.

“When everyone was yelling my name, I knew I could keep going,” Funicello said.

Fighting in just his second sanctioned muay thai fight as an amateur, Funicello admitted he was nervous beforehand, but he just kept attacking.

“It was a good fight. A really good fight,” he said. “(Gonzales) had good heart. I just out-techniqued him.”

The technique included an array of kicks and knees, mostly to the abdomen of Gonzales, who was fighting in his debut amateur bout.

With each knee Funicello landed, he said he could hear his opponent crying out in pain, so he kept working at Gonzales’ midsection.

In muay thai tradition, the crowd often yelled “oy” when a fighter landed a big hit.

There was no shortage of opportunities to embrace the tradition in Funicello’s fight.

Lahn, meanwhile, didn’t win his fight, but he drew blood from his opponent after landing a right hand to Cruz’s face in the second round.

“I kept going backward, not forward,” Lahn said. “I was trying to knock out rather than using techniques.”

Cruz spent the rest of the round dazed, but recovered in the third with an array of punches that knocked Lahn into the ropes.

The night wasn’t over for Lahn or Funicello, however.

Both waited to watch their older brothers fight later on.

Ruben Lahn, 19, was set to fight Oscar Sanchez and Francisco Funicello, 22, was scheduled to take on Roger Kelly while the fifth local fighter, Hector Godoy, 29, took on Angel Meca.

All fights were scheduled to take place after press time.


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