Hayellom Tesfay starting training when he was 18. At 22, he's one of the rising stars of kickboxing from Kings Academy.
LISTEN to Hayellom's full inteview on the Voices podcast:
Born in Ethiopia and raised in Auckland's Mount Roskill, Hayellom is aware about the stigma held by some in his community, around a career in a sport like kickboxing.
But over the past couple of years he's been seeing more parents express interest in their children taking up the sport, "it's a sign something's getting through" he says.
His entire family nowadays comes along to watch his fights, his two little sisters included.
"Luckily for me, my mum has been really supportive, I know it's not always easy for many parents out there to accept."
""Before I started training I was literally doing nothing."
"Growing up, I had a small circle. Some of the boys I train with here, we all grew up together and to see us here training, it's beautiful."
Listen to the full interview with Hayellom on Voices podcast.
Hayellom's most recent win in August was at Born to Fight, against Suran Juanmiry in defence of his K1 WKBF title.
"This fight game you know, is not easy - you always need someone to push you."
At Kings Academy, Hayellom trains practically everyday and remains inspired by his sparring peers here - the likes of Arshia Ebadi and Scott Aitken.
"I'm hoping within the next few years the fight community becomes even bigger with more Ethiopian fighters.
At the end of the day we're all representing New Zealand."
"I keep my tunnel vision and keep doing what I'm doing. What's meant for you, will come."
Hear the full story behind Kings Academy's director, Vahid Unesi in the previous Voices podcast.