By Ryan McKinnon
Scott MacKenzie’s year can be summarized nicely in one word. ‘Golden’. He ended the year with a flawless record of 9-0, captured a pair of titles along the way, and capped off his outstanding achievements by sweeping the 75 kg division at the Pan American Championships in Argentina, earning a gold medal for his efforts. It was a fitting end to the year for MacKenzie, who now has his sights set on the best competition the world of amateur Muaythai has to offer.
Scott ‘Smash’ MacKenzie is no stranger to international events and a few of the other team Canada athletes. He competed at the world championships in Minsk, Belarus in 2017, and was part of the coaching staff to the team that competed at the world championships in Cancun, Mexico in 2018. He had travelled with teammates Taylor and Josimar in previous events, but wasn’t as familiar with some of his new teammates. When asked about travelling and competing with his team, Scott said, “I’m impressed with the squad that fought this year. For a relatively new group, with 10 athletes competing, we were one of the smaller countries in the tournament, and took home the silver medal for team performance.” There were other countries from South America who had twice as many athletes competing in Argentina this year.
MacKenzie was fully aware that his bracket had a few opponents with more experience than him, offering him a great challenge to see where he ranked amongst some of the best athletes in the western hemisphere. After an athlete missed weight in a lower class and was moved to Scott’s division, the bracket had 9 competitors. Therefore, a qualifying match was added to the bout list for Day 1, and Scott’s name was drawn. His bout against Carlos Mario Gutierrez of Columbia kicked off the tournament. He defeated Gutierrez with a flurry of elbows and clinch strikes in the second round, earning him the referee stoppage, and adulation from the crowd inside the Club Atlético Atlanta.
After the qualifier, Scott then had to compete later the same day against Leonardo Forte of Brazil; the only athlete in the tournament to have done so. Much like his first bout, Scott demonstrated his Muaythai IQ in the clinch, overpowering Forte. It was almost a case of deja vu when Scott finished his opponent again with elbow strikes, forcing the referee to stop the bout in the second round. A very impressive Day 1 for Scott.
Day 2 proved to be much more challenging for the Calgary Elite athlete. He was matched with Giovanni Mazzetti of Peru in the semi-finals on day 2, a Top King & Thai Fight veteran, and the most experienced athlete Scott has ever faced in his career. It was a great bout, with both athletes fighting hard for their spot in the finals. Scott would get the decision win over Mazzetti, but he didn’t come out of the bout unscathed. He took damage to his ribs and right foot in that fight. Initially he thought he may have broken his ankle, but with the help of Dr. Jason Park and Omar Kennedy of the United States’ team, the inflammation was reduced significantly, revealing a minor sprain. The sports therapy offering by Jason and Omar literally got Scott back on his feet, offering him a fighting chance in the finals.
In the finals on day 3 Scott would face a tournament favourite and hometown athlete, Braian Allevatto of Argentina, a well known competitor in the South American Muaythai scene. The bout against Allevatto was a testimony to Scott’s competitive drive and determination. Unable to kick with his right leg, Scott’s attitude was, “Well, I have 7 more weapons to choose from.” And that’s exactly what he did. Scott mainly used his boxing to score points against the Argentine, and continued to strike well in the clinch. Out of all the opponents he faced over the three days in Argentina, it was Allevatto who surprised him the most in the clinch. “He was tricky in the clinch, and dumped me in round 1, which surprised me because I didn’t have as hard a time with any of my previous competitors in the tournament.”
After 9 gruelling minutes between the two 75kg finalists, Scott earned himself the decision win. “The fight (with Allevatto) probably looked a lot closer than it was because I forced to use more upper body techniques,” said MacKenzie when asked to reflect on his performance. “I was in such a competitive state of mind for 4 days, that it didn’t really sink in that I had won the gold medal after my hand was raised.”
In his reflections on the entire tournament, Scott is grateful for all of the support he received before and during the Pan American Championships. Everyone who participated in his t-shirt campaign contributed an enormous help financially. His coaching staff, Kieran Keddle and Francois Duval of Calgary Elite prepared him very well for the event, and his Team Canada teammates gave him overwhelming support throughout the tournament. Coaches Vic Costa and Darwin Miranda each contributed in their own unique way. “Darwin helped me relax and enjoy the experience, because I’m a super serious guy. And I really clicked with Vic. He gave me great visualization exercises to work with.” Even the coaches from the Unites States team, especially Danny Brandt were there for Scott, offering coaching advice during his bouts.
It was a great end of the year for MacKenzie, who aims to medal again at the IFMA World Championship in Bangkok this summer. He is an athlete who is constantly improving, and always looking for opponents who will challenge him to bring out his best efforts. With a performance like the one he had at the Pan Ams, Scott has an excellent chance against the world’s best later this year.
Ryan McKinnon is the host of The Bloody Ballet Podcast and website, found at www.thebloodyballet.com.