Alive and kicking


By samuel darroch

HAZELWOOD kickboxer Stephen Baldacchino claimed a second Australian title this month, seven years on from his first national belt.

The 27 year-old battled Simon Coutsouvelis at the Melbourne Pavilion in an eight-round rematch of their July bout, turning the tables on the Werribee fighter to record a majority points victory and lift the WKA welterweight trophy.

Just six months and three fights in to his competitive comeback, following a five-year hiatus from the ring, Baldacchino said the Australian title was his kickboxing dream.

“You can’t explain it really, it’s what you train for, it’s everything,” he said.

“That’s the aim of the sport, to win titles, just definitely the highlight of my career.”

Taking a lesson from their previous matchup, a close run five-round fight earlier this year, the Valley dynamo shut off Coutsouvelis’ space to come away with the career defining decision.

“I closed the distance down a lot more than I did last time, moved forward a lot more and used a lot more hands,” he said.

Baldacchino has been back in training for the past two years, motivated in part by his wife and training partner Kim-Alina.

Kim-Alina, also an accomplished kickboxer, has been a prominent influence in her husband’s resurgence.

“It really wouldn’t happen without her,” Baldacchino said.

“She prepares all my meals, all the special meals we have to have, she wakes me up in the mornings to go training, none of it would happen without her.”

Kim-Alina, who scored a recent win of her own in Sunshine, works out regularly with Baldacchino in his gruelling schedule of twice daily training up to six days a week.

And when tension mounts to breaking point the couple has a perfect release for their pent up aggression.

“From time to time she might let one fly,” he joked.

Baldacchino is planning a fight in Traralgon next April and will defend his title sometime next year.

His aim is to rack up as many matches as possible in the next 12 months before retirement becomes a consideration.