Article By Alex Minor.
On Saturday, July 23, 2022, the IKF’s illustrious Stand-Up Fight Series is touching down at the Renaissance Hotel, in St. Louis, MO, for an action-packed night of high-level Kickboxing/Muay Thai competition! In the second fight of the main card, we have a 5 Round 147lb Certified IKF USA title fight between two highly decorated, amateur martial artists!
In one corner, we have Team USA kickboxer, James Whitaker; a Collinsville native who recently took gold in both the Pan-American games and a National Kickboxing tournament championship. Whitaker currently holds five amateur kickboxing belts, including two IKF World Classic championships and one IKF East Coast Classic championship. When reflecting on the opportunity to fight for his very first IKF Stand-Up Fight Series belt, Whitaker expressed that he feels “honored” and “blessed”; especially, considering the fact that he will be fighting in front of his hometown.
Having trained in martial arts since he was three, Whitaker has extensive training in boxing, kickboxing, and American Karate. Moreover, 2022 marks the 7th year Whitaker has competed in both boxing (8-4) and kickboxing (22-9). When asked what motivates him to continue fighting, Whitaker explained, “There’s no other feeling like the one you get when you’re in the ring. I love to fight, I love to win, and I want to be the best in the world”. Whitaker went on to say, “By the end of my career, I want to be a professional, World Kickboxing champion”. Whitaker also expressed that he models himself after champions like Canelo Alvarez, for the level of discipline he exemplifies through his actions.
In the other corner, we have Willie “The Rainmaker” Henderson. Henderson is a two-time, amateur kickboxing champion, fighting out of Cape Girardeau, MO. Henderson currently trains out of his very own gym, Powerful Fitness, and has amassed years of instruction in Muay Thai, Karate, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, and Taekwondo. This year also marks 5 years of Kickboxing competition for “The Rainmaker”, in which he’s attained an impressive 10-3 record, with four victories via KO. Henderson also has seven bouts of experience in the cage as a mixed martial artist. When he enters the ring on the 23rd, Henderson will be competing for his third amateur title, and second belt under the IKF umbrella.
When asked what he felt about receiving the opportunity to compete for the prestigious IKF USA title, Henderson proclaimed that he was the “perfect fighter” to receive the call. Henderson has strived to be a world class martial artist since he was a child. Motivated by his own display of flawless martial arts technique and ability, Henderson ultimately wishes to become a World Champion with millions of dollars in the bank.
On July 23rd, Henderson aims to prove that he is on another level. “The Rainmaker” expressed that he feels he is not only better looking than his opponent, but is simply “too phenomenal” for him to beat. If “The Rainmaker” has it his way, Whitaker will end up his fifth KO finish on fight night. Whitaker, on the other hand, plans to carry out his own game plan. “If a knockout comes, it comes. If not, I’ll beat him on points”, said Whitaker. When asked what he thought of Henderson’s knockout prediction, Whitaker said he was not worried. He went on to say that with only four KOs in ten fights, “They must call him the Rainmaker because his predictions are as accurate as the weatherman’s”.
When asked why he was so confident that he’d achieve a KO victory over Whitaker, Henderson explained that he’s reached a level at which he can “KO any opponent effortlessly”. Henderson claims that he also gains confidence from the fact that his opponent “isn’t confident enough” to fight without shin pads. Furthermore, he feels Whitaker is a “typical banger with no sharp techniques”.
Despite the trash talk from his opponent, Whitaker assures that he is not affected by the bravado. “I don’t let anyone get in my head and affect the way I perform”, explained Whitaker. On fight night, Whitaker simply desires to prove that he is “The best in the U.S.”
When the dust settles on Saturday, one of these fearsome competitors will have earned both a shiny new belt, as well as the bragging rights to sufficiently put this rivalry to bed.
Tickets to the fight will go on sale May 1st! Please visit www.standupfightseries.com to reserve a spot!