Local fighters to compete in prestigious tourney

OKEECHOBEE — A group of four fighters from Okeechobee will attend the IKF International Kickboxing Federation in Orlando this weekend.

Lacy Campbell 8, Raul Ruiz 16, and Matteo Tullio 30, will compete in the amateur tournament while Logan Ray 9, will also take part in exhibitions and training.

Lacy has been training for two years and always wanted to try the sport. She competes in the 52-57-pound weight class, or the Atom Weight Division. She is a third grader at Okeechobee Christian Academy.

Her dad, Chad Campbell, said he is glad to support his daughter.

Pictured from left to right are Layla, Lacy, Chad and Niki Campbell. Lacy Campbell 8, will compete in the amateur tournament.

“As long as she likes it, I like it,” he said.

Lacy said she likes Rhonda Rousey, a former women’s champion in MMA.

Lacy’s mother, Niki Campbell, said Lacy works out about three hours per week. She said she has noticed a difference in her daughter since she began kickboxing.

“She’s strong and she’s determined. She realizes she’s stronger and tougher than she thought she was,” said Mrs. Campbell.

She said she will be nervous when her daughter enters the ring this weekend. She is expected to fight Chloe Wilkey of Kentucky.

Coach Coleman Ray said Lacy is a great student and a hard worker.

“I think she will do really well. I’m proud of her — win or lose. It is something she always wanted to do,” offered Ray.

Each fighter is guaranteed at least one fight, and some two fights, at the tournament.

Ruiz is following the paths of his two older brothers — Leonel and Pascual — who competed in kickboxing. He has been conditioning and practicing for the past eight months.

“My brothers told me to be prepared at all times, stay motivated and ready,” offered Ruiz.

It will be the first time he has ever stepped into a ring so Ruiz plans to be nervous, but still knows what to expect. He will compete in the light welterweight division.

Ruiz also is on the cross country team and is also part of an advanced placement art program at OHS.

“It is going to be interesting and I’m very excited about the tournament,” he added.

Tullio, is a veteran of the Florida National Guard and has always wanted to be a kickboxer. His younger brother, Chris Tullio, also competed in the tournament.

“I’m excited for it. It is something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said.

He attended Florida Atlantic University and studied criminal justice and hospitality management. He joined the kickboxing program in October of last year.

“The workouts are pretty intense. It rivals the stuff I did in the military,” he said.

Tullio will compete in the 159-165 pound weight class, or the middleweight division. He started training at 185 pounds, but was able to keep his strength, while improving his endurance and quickness. He also trains with a southpaw stance.

“It is kind of natural. I’m confident and I’m not that worried about anything,” Tullio noted.

Tullio said the difference in the fights could end up being a good coach and corner man.

Logan Ray, has trained hard in his parents gym, Rays Combat Kickboxing, at 415 S.W. Park St. His mother Susan Ray, is a black belt and an instructor. His father, Coleman, is also a black belt and instructor. Mrs. Ray said the sport builds confidence, respect and discipline.
Logan is a fourth grader at Okeechobee Christian Academy.

The kickboxing program currently operates six days a week in Okeechobee. There are 10 children, eight teenagers and several adults who take part in the program.

The event is scheduled from July 21-23, at the Universal Center Ballroom at Double Tree by Hilton, 5780 Major Blvd. Tickets for Saturday are $35, and $40 for Sunday contests.
The program offers combat fitness, Muay Thai, Haganah, JLFS Kickboxing and also specialized private training programs.

In front are, (left to right) Gerald Shockley, Lacy Campbell, Susan Ray, Logan Ray and Coleman Ray; back row (left to right) Matteo Tullio and Raul Ruiz.


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