PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Five Fighters To Represent Lion Heart At National Muay Thai Event

Balancing school work with daily workouts, a strict diet, and competition is a combination we often associate with the 800 student-athletes we see around campus. However, five current Penn State students prove there are athletes in Happy Valley committed to a sport that transcends the blue and white.

Penn State’s own Bruce Lombard has spent the past year training seven Muay Thai fighters at Lion Heart Fitness for an upcoming competition in Hamburg, Pennsylvania.

“We’ve had well over 20 Muay Thai fighters train with us over the last 15 years,” Lombard said. “This is a very unusual situation because people who train with us typically train for a couple years and then stick with us for a few years after. A lot of these fighters started last spring, went home for the summer, and returned to training in the fall.”

Five of Lombard’s competitors are training for the USKA Fight Night on April 23 at the Hamburg Field House in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, a fight that consists  of three two-minute rounds with 60-second rests between each round. Fighters wear head gear and shin guards; they are allowed to punch, kick, knee, and clinch their opponent.

Lombard’s fighters have two or three training classes per week in addition to their own individual workouts. Fighters are recommended to stick to a healthy diet and limit their drinking to little or none. “They kickbox four days a week, they’re expected to get weight training in three times a week, and they’re expected to run four times a week,” Lombard said.

lombard mma muy thai
Meghan O’Toole sparring with Arielle Web.

Lombard’s 12-week training camp kicked off at the beginning of February and is the final step in preparing his athletes for their April fight. Weeks one through four focused on conditioning and perfecting basic level drills. The following weeks transitioned to more advanced drills and light sparring. The final four weeks are dedicated to personal strengths, hard sparring, and focusing on their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses.

“The commitment to the sport is just as big as any sport. They commit to being an athlete and a student, they give up part of their social life, and they take the risk of getting hurt,” Lombard said. “You can get knocked out, you can break bones. It’s a hard commitment for a college student to make..for anyone to make really.”

Fighters usually train with Lombard for about two-and-a-half years before they are allowed to get in the ring. However, Lombard was quick to explain that this year’s group of fighters is committed and excited for the fight. “We’re ready to throw them into the fire,” he said.

Corey Tighlman, war veteran and Penn State junior, is entering his 12th competition in April. “I’ve done sports as long as I can remember and I’m not at the point where I’m ready to stop competing,” Tighlman said. “It’s in my personal nature to be competitive. Not in the sense that I compete in every aspect of my life, it’s just a way for me to push myself and grow in abnormal situations.”

Corey Tilghman body bag training.
Corey Tilghman body bag training.

Tighlman also coaches alongside Lombard; both feel that the fighters are prepared for the upcoming competition but agree that successful preparation is what will lead to a successful outcome.

“We all have the skill and the technique but it’s about having your body prepared for such an adrenaline shock,” Tighlman said. “You’re putting yourself in harm’s way and the best way to prepare for that is pushing yourself ahead of time.”

All the athletes are excited for the upcoming month; each competitor agrees that Lombard’s training has really helped them prepare for the forthcoming challenge.

“Bruce does a great job at preparing us for every aspect we’re going to be facing,” said graduating senior Adam Cole.

Senior Khaled Sabah admitted that although he feels prepared, they’re still six weeks from the fight. “Every day we’re getting better and closer to the fight,” he said.

Adam Cole and Khaled Sabah sparring.
Adam Cole and Khaled Sabah sparring.

Meghan O’Toole is a Penn State sophomore, ROTC member, and one of two females that has been training with Lombard. “I chose to competitively fight to leave my comfort zone,” she said. “It’s a way to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and give myself more mental toughness.”

“I get to train with people who are physically stronger than me, it’s better preparation for my opponent and I can use that to my advantage,” O’Toole said of her male training partners.

“It really is a great sport,” Lombard said. “It’s different because the athletes are risking their bodies. But it’s rewarding because they challenge themselves both physically and mentally. No one knows if they can handle this sport until they punched in the face.”

Despite feeling prepared, the student fighters have personal concerns and nerves for their upcoming fight. “The thing that makes me a little nervous is being in the arena with the lights around you. It’s so fast paced and I have to give 100 percent,” Sabah said. “It’s much different from the training process.”

Lombard’s fighters have won more than 80 percent of their fights and he’s hopeful for this year’s dedicated athletes. Seniors Kahled Sabah, Daniel Yoo, Adam Cole, junior Corey Tighlman, and sophomore Meghan O’Toole will represent Lombard’s camp during the USKA event in mid April.

About the Author

Emma Curtis

Emma is a staff writer for Onward State. She is a sophomore in the College of Communications and a first generation Penn Stater. Emma comes from a diverse military family and has moved around a lot; however, she has recently found her favorite home in Happy Valley. Contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @cinemmatiic.


State College Links

Penn State Men’s Lacrosse’s Ryan Keenan Selected In MLL Draft

The Ohio State took the Nittany Lion senior with the 54th overall pick in the sixth round of the draft — making it the fifth-straight year Penn State had a player selected in the MLL collegiate draft. Seven Nittany Lions have been drafted to play in the top-level pro league since 2014.

Penn State Baseball Snaps Eleven-Game Losing Streak Against Mount St. Mary’s

Penn State Softball No Match For Saint Francis In Doubleheader

Penn State Hoops To Host Grad Transfers Blue-White Weekend

Mulhern, Shigo Better Their Own School Records In Action-Packed Track And Field Weekend

Student Life

A Guide To Penn State’s Best Library Study Spots

A few of our staff members found their favorite libraries across campus and shared why love them for their uninterrupted study sessions.

Sig Ep To Host Humboldt Broncos Benefit Fundraiser

UPUA Funds Late-Night Coffee For Finals Week

Saquon Barkley Shows Some Skin On SI Cover

The NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 26, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Barkley is expected to be a top-five pick, and he and his most vehement supporters say there’s no reason he won’t go No. 1 overall.

Position Battles To Watch At This Year’s Blue-White Game

The competition at middle linebacker, safety, and tight end will all be interesting storylines surrounding the 2018 Blue-White spring game.

Dry Weather Expected For Blue-White Weekend

Predicted temperatures in the mid-50s and mostly cloudy skies should make for a pleasant (but more importantly, dry) Blue-White Weekend.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

The Worst Places To Propose At Penn State

If you’re planning to propose to your Penn State sweetheart somewhere in Happy Valley, steer clear of these locations.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Send this to a friend