The 18th Bridgetown Burning International Martial Arts Championship kicks off at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on April 15 at 2 p.m.
The event will feature international Chinese kickboxing (Sanda) athletes from Canada, Bermuda and Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. The disciplines will also include Taekwondo, Olympic wrestling, sports, kung fu and karate. Guest of honour will be Minister of Tourism and International Transport Richard Sealy.
The main event will be contested between Sentwali Woolridge of Bermuda and the number three world ranking Zack George of Canada. Woolridge will not have far to look for “inside information” before his main event bout at Bridgetown Burning in Barbados next weekend.
The 33-year-old faces a formidable opponent in Zack George – a former world No 3 – who counts Woolridge’s coach Garon Wilkinson among his many victims.
Wilkinson, the Bermuda Sanshou Association president, lost to George at the Pan American Wushu Championships in Toronto in 2006.
Woolridge is under no illusions about the tough task ahead.
“Zack George knows his stuff in Sanshou and I’ll have to have my wits about me and be cautious,” said Woolridge.
“I’m not afraid of him. I’m going in there fearless and I’m going there to win.”
With a record of 21 wins and 15 losses, Woolridge will fight for the first time since winning a silver medal at the Pan American Wushu Championships in Lubbock, Texas, in January 2016.
He said he would draw on Wilkinson’s knowledge before and during his bout against George, a Canadian who claimed bronze at the world championships in Malaysia in 2013.
“I have a great support team as well as an excellent coach,” said Woolridge, who is fighting at 165lb. “I respond quickly to what he needs me to do.”
Woolridge said Bridgetown Burning would serve as ideal preparation for the World Wushu Championships to be held in Kazan, Russia, from September 27 to October 3.
“This will be a nice little warm-up because you need to get some bangs in before you go to the big time. That’s something my coach likes us to do; get a couple of fights in to get rid of the ring rust before a major competition,” he stated.
Wilkinson’s bout against George in his Sanshou debut proved to be a painful affair, as each fighter suffered a broken foot.
“It was a very competitive match and we both went for a low kick at the same time and ended up breaking the exact same bone in our foot,” Wilkinson said.
“It was a round-robin event and it meant the Mexican fighter was able to win the gold medal without even having to fight.”
Wilkinson is confident that Woolridge can pull off a victory against his experienced adversary.
“It’s a fantastic match-up,” he said. “In a world championship year, it’s important for us to really test our athletes.
“Sentwali’s fight will give him a really good idea of where he is at the moment. He does have a chance, and a win would be a real confidence booster.”
Also in action in Barbados will be Woolridge’s BSA team-mates Reyel Bowen, making his return from a long-term injury, Keanu Wilson, Krista Dyer and debutant Chaquita Simons.
Sponsors of the event are Barbados Marketing Tourism Inc., Savannah Hotel, Rosstrevor Hotel, Macho Products Inc.(Florida) and the Barbados Wrestling Association.