Frank Masoe made his return to the ring, representing Fale Dojo in the main event of the Return of the King show. Held recently in Featherston, New Zealand, the event was named in anticipation of the return of Antz Nansen. Nansen, a former World Kickboxing Champion, and holder of multiple championships was making his comeback after a seven-year absence. Masoe’s return however happened quite unexpectedly.
“I flew down to Featherston as a trainer,” said Masoe, the Fale Dojo Boxing Trainer. “Clinton Saio was scheduled to represent the Dojo in the Return of the King undercard, but he had to pull out at the last minute due to being called to his mission as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Understandably, I gave Clinton my blessing to spend his last weekend with his family.”
“On top of that, I was travelling with a promoter whose fighter was booked to headline with Antz Nansen,” Masoe continued. “But he too had to withdraw from his fight. We arrived at the venue and apologised to the promoters of the event.”
Looking to resolve the dilemma, the promoters offered Masoe an alternative in order to preserve the integrity of the show.
“The promoters approached me about stepping in to fight Antz in the main event,” shared the two-time NZ Heavyweight Boxing Champion and Commonwealth Games competitor. “They were hopeful for Antz to fight because the event was built around his return.”
“We talked for half an hour: I explained that I was a boxer, not a kickboxer and I hadn’t fought in the last three years,” Masoe elaborated. “This wasn’t how I wanted to come back in the ring; not being in shape to fight and with no training. Plus Antz had been out of the ring for quite some time as well.”
Masoe eventually agreed to the fight after speaking at length with Nansen his peer.
“With only three hours of notice, I agreed to fight Antz,” Masoe revealed. “What really sold me was when Antz said that he drove down from Auckland to Featherston [a seven and a half-hour drive] two days before the event. I also thought about what an honour it would be to carry the Fale Dojo name in the main event and compete with one of the best kickboxers in the world. Opportunities like this don’t come by every day.”
In agreeing to the fight, Masoe established the conditions of the encounter.
“On my terms, we boxed for all three rounds,” Masoe the ‘Tank’ explained. “But because the New Zealand Muaythai Federation that Antz belongs to was at the event, I would throw the kick in the first round to classify it as a kickboxing fight.”
Masoe was unsuccessful in his battle against Nansen, also nicknamed ‘Notorious’. For the ‘Tank’, however, there was a silver lining.
“I’m not so worried about the result, for me it was about representing Fale Dojo,” he expressed. “It was a special moment to hear the Dojo’s name being announced in the main event. I was also determined to perform and give Antz the best work possible. I did the best that I could under the circumstances and left everything out there. I’m happy to know that I can still compete with the world’s best fighters.”
Masoe added, “This has given me the motivation to get myself back in the ring and in fighting shape. I’m grateful to Antz and his family for giving me the amazing opportunity.”
Following the conclusion of the fight, Nansen presented Masoe with a silver medal as well as giving his own gold medal, much to the Tank’s surprise.
“When Antz presented me with both medals, I asked him why is he giving me his gold medal, but he said that it was ok,” Masoe revealed. “It was a great sign of respect. Also, Antz bowed to me; I don’t understand a lot about the Muaythai culture, but I was touched by his gesture. I have so much love and respect for Antz Nansen.”
“I would strongly caution my Fale Dojo students to train hard and not take fights in the last minute,” he shared with amusement. “Fortunately for me, my experience in boxing was why I held on during the fight.”
“Antz was also compassionate,” Masoe added. “He threw some heavy blows, but he didn’t try to hurt me or knock me out. He knew to hold back.”
“I’m not going to take another fight at the last minute,” he stated. “I did it out of my love for Antz because I knew he was really itching to get back in the ring. Until I’ve done the hard yards, I will return to the ring whether as an amateur or if I decide to turn pro.”
“To the Fale Dojo Boxing Team – fear nothing but God,” Masoe advised his fighters in closing. “Antz is a world-class fighter, he’s defeated many an opponent and held many championships including a World Title, but I didn’t let that intimidate me. So don’t let fear phase you in your own journeys. Respect your opponents, but don’t fear them!”