Ford Gerbes in the Fight-Fit Fitness gym at Hampstead Rugby Club grounds. Below: A lean and fit Ford Gerbes in training

Ashburton kickboxer Ford Gerbes has demonstrated his skills and passion for the sport and earned selection for the New Zealand team set to travel to the World Championships in Ireland later this year.

The 34-year-old impressed selectors at recent South Island trials after being put through a gruelling three hours of fitness, sparring and skills tests.

Gerbes has kickboxed on and off for the past 11 years and dedicates a lot of time to training for the combat sport.

Selection for the NZ team came as a big surprise, he says.

“I couldn’t believe it when I got the call telling me I was in the team.

“It was a proud moment and I’m still buzzing now.”

At 1.73m tall and weighing in at 66kg, Gerbes is a featherweight and fit, fast and lean.

“Kickboxing and fighting help to keep me mentally fit, as well as physically fit.

“Training and stepping in the ring keeps me sane and takes me outside of my comfort zone, which I like.”

He also has a one win, one loss boxing record and will step into the ring for his second MMA fight on May 20 when he fights Kasib Murdoch in Dunedin for the New Zealand amateur featherweight title.

Gerbes, who hails from the Hawkes Bay, has lived in the district for the last nine years and works at the Ashburton meatworks.

He set up the Fight-Fit Fitness gym at the Hampstead Rugby Club grounds nearly two years ago.

The gym offers a combination of basic fighting drills and circuit fitness training suitable for all levels of fitness.

Last week he started classes for juniors aged from eight to 16 years.

“It’s good to give back to the sport and to do some coaching.

“I love seeing the smiles on peoples’ faces after a training session.”

His dedication to kickboxing and fitness drives him to train six days a week.

“I usually do an hour before work and a couple of hours after it.

“It’s a mix of cardio, sparring, drills and skills, a slow down session, MMA skills and open mat rolling.”

He also visits a Christchurch gym on Saturdays where he can test his fighting skills.

In order to attend the November World Championships in Waterford, Ireland, Gerbes needs to raise around $6400.

He is on the lookout for sponsors and will set up a Givealittle page soon. He is also planning other fundraisers.

“Any assistance I get will be great and really appreciated.

“I’m happy to put sponsor names on the Fight-Fit Fitness logo t-shirts I wear.”

Gerbes can be contacted through his Facebook page or by calling 022 651 6551.

-By Mick Jensen