‘It was personal’

July 14, 2016

Jamaica's top International Taekwondo-Federation (ITF) black belt microweight fighter, Ackeem Lawrence, said he had a vendetta against Canada's many-time world champion, Maxime Bujold, who he beat on Saturday's Night of Champions at the International Sports Karate Association's US Open World Martial Arts Championships.

Despite playing big roles in helping Jamaica win team-fighting gold on home soil at the ITF World Cup in Montego Bay, 2014, Lawrence and fellow microweight, Alrick Wanliss, were among the most disappointed fighters inside the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

Both Jamaican microweights were picked off like birds in a shooting gallery - Lawrence in the semi-final and Wanliss in the final - by Bujold, one of the most technically gifted ITF fighters ever.

Since then, Lawrence, 23, has been burning for a rematch with 32-year-old Bujold, whose victory over Wanliss in Montego Bay handed him his third World Cup crown, coming out of retirement to beat the Jamaican, who had won the title in his absence in Italy 2008.

"Seeing Maxime holding the title in Jamaica was heartbreak for me," said Lawrence.

"I believe it was also a heartbreak for Alrick, so when I got the opportunity to fight him on Night of Champions, it was like, 'Yes, I've got him now'," said Lawrence.

Preparation, he said, was key to beating Bujold, whose resume reads like a movie script, rising from junior star to world champion to tae kwon do ambassador and assistant to late ITF president, GrandMaster Tran Trieu Quan, before his untimely death in the earthquake which ravished Haiti in January, 2010.

"The coaching staff played their parts well, telling me certain things to look out for. He did exactly what they said he would be doing, so it was just my match on the day," Lawrence said, adding that the Canadian was quite impressed.

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