Hendrick Mutale: The new WKBF NZ champion eyes up King in the Ring

Photo credit: Jarrod Woodfield.

Hendrick Mutale has fought more than 20 bouts.

On November 20, 2020, he defeated Luca Matteo Young at MTI’s Capital Punishment, to win the New Zealand WKBF Lightweight title.

Mutale is now eyeing up more belts and a spot in the lucrative King In The Ring.

Fight News met with Mutale to talk about the experience and plans for 2022.

Hi Hendrick. Congratulations on your recent title win! You've had a significant fight career, why did you start?

I'm originally from Zambia in Africa. I came to New Zealand in 2000 when my parents immigrated here for work and grew up in Palmerton North.

I started to look for an alternative means of keeping fit when I was in my last year at Massey University.

I used to go to the gym there a lot and when I was in my last year, I wanted to find something in town that was closer than the Massey gym. I ended up visiting the Fightshop and I have been there ever since.

Initially I just trained for fitness but within a year of being there I decided to give fighting a go and I got hooked onto that straight away.

Your last Muay Thai fight was a title fight with Luca Matteo Young, who you fought in 2020. Although you won that last fight, how did you feel in the lead up to the event?

I was rearing to go for this fight. It was a huge opportunity to fight for a title belt and I was thrilled I was getting the chance.

Having fought Luca before I knew he was going to be a tough opponent. He is very technically sound, and his offense and defense are good.

I knew I had to bring my A game. On top of that he is southpaw as well, so that added something else into the mix. I knew it would be a great hard fight and I was ready for it.

How did you find the experience? Any highlights from the fight

It was a great experience, I loved fighting 5 rounds. 3 x 2min rounds are ok but I prefer longer rounds so 5 x 2mins was great. A highlight was definitely getting the knockdown in the first round.

Photo credit: Jarrod Woodfield.

How did you manage nerves/doubts when preparing for a fight?

I've got a pretty set routine now when prepping for a fight having had quite a few.

I decrease all social media access to the bear minimum and bring my focus down to just my training, work, and home life leading into a fight.

It means I just focus on what I need to. I find this helps with nerves/doubts.

Favourite or most memorable fight to date?

My most memorable fight to date was quite a few years back now when I fought Matt Fraser from MTI.

Matt hit very hard, and I got dropped a couple of times in that fight.

I lost the fight, but it’s my most memorable because I learnt a lot from that fight. It taught me not only about the physical damage you can take in a fight but also the psychological thoughts that go through your mind.

I decided in that fight that I wouldn’t stop no matter what, and I have kept that attitude ever since.

Photo credit: Jarrod Woodfield

Future goals?

I will take a break for a few weeks currently, then it will be back into training. I want to add to my title with the corresponding belts in other Muay Thai federations.

I would also like the opportunity to compete on a King in the Ring card.

As for next opponent, I have not set my sights on anyone in particular but given that I'm looking at NZ Titles I'm anticipating fighting some of the best in NZ so I'm happy with that prospect.

Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us, Hendrick. All the best for your future endeavors!