Werner Velasquez is Straight Blast Gym Atlanta's Martial Arts Student of the Month for May 2022

After training at Straight Blast Gym Atlanta for the past 8 years, Werner recently decided to compete in his first sanctioned Muay Thai fight.

Werner is one of Straight Blast Gym's longest-tenured Muay Thai students, joining our Buford location way back in February of 2014. Werner was in search of a new activity that he could sink his teeth into, and what he ended up finding was a second family.

For the first several years of his tenure at SBG Buford, Werner solidified himself as a great teammate and training partner. In 2021, he started having aspirations of competing in Muay Thai and/or Kickboxing. His first opportunity came at a local, non-sanctioned Muay Thai competition in Atlanta where Werner and several of his martial arts teammates competed in their very first matches. Despite the fact that Werner competed at heavyweight against some REALLY big boys, he won not one but TWO MATCHES! It was a remarkable pair of performances that garnered the applause and respect of everyone in attendance.

After getting a taste of Muay Thai competition, Werner set his sights on the International Kickboxing Federation's Spring Classic in March of 2022.

Muay Thai Coach Alex Caruso said this about Werner:

"Werner has been around since the Eddie Walker days (former striking coach at SBG Buford). He works really hard and he never backs down from a challenge or during a round. At the IKF tournament, everyone he fought was bigger than him but he just went straight in there and fought his butt off. He might have the best inside leg kick in our gym. He's also just a good person. He helps othr students when they have car troubles, he's constnatly trying to coordinate going out to eat or something after sparring...he's a grea asset to our tribe."

The IKF's Spring Classic is held every Spring and is one of the largest Muay Thai and Kickboxing competitions in the Southeast. This year, Straight Blast Gym Atlanta brought 5 martial arts students to compete, with Werner and his teammates delivering outstanding performances. Every single Straight Blast Gym student picked up AT LEAST one victory that weekend, including Werner getting a hard-fought victory in his very first sanctioned Muay Thai fight!

While the 2022 edition of the Spring Classic represented Werner's first official and sanctioned fight, it wasn't his first time at the Spring Classic. The year before, Straight Blast Gym Atlanta brought 8 students to the IKF Muay Thai/Kickboxing event and while Werner was not set to compete in the event, he drove from his home in Buford all the way to Myrtle Beach, SC to support his teammates. Talk about dedication to his team!

Straight Blast Gym Muay Thai and MMA coach Patrick Barger added this about Werner:

"With years under his belt, training with SBG, Werner has come from someone that wants to learn to fight, to a leader amongst the Muay Thai team. He has competed several times over the last year, taking on bigger opponents as the underdog and winning over entire crowds as the fight of the night in his last tournament. Werner is also a great partner in class, willing to mix it up or work though learning curves with newer students."

Earlier ths year, Straight Blast Gym instituted a Muay Thai ranking system. While Jiu Jitsu, Karate, and other martial arts having a universal belting system, Muay Thai does not. To help reward our Muay Thai students for their hard work and dedication to their craft, Straight Blast Gym instituted a ranking system very similar to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, with students working their way from white to black.

Because of Werner's tenure at Straight Blast Gym, combined with his recent competitions and commitment to his team and teammates, Coach Pat recently promoted Werner to Purple.

Thank you, Werner, for being such a great teammate and student. You have become a rock in our Muay Thai program and we look forward to many more years of training, traveling, and competing with you!

Jim Sheppard is one of the co-owners of Straight Blast Gym Buford and Straight Blast Gym Atlanta. He has been training / coaching / competing in Muay Thai since 2013 and holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
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