Jamaica's Cunningham, Richards outclass rivals
Two generations of Jamaican female fighters, Sheckema Cunningham and Subrina Richards, on Friday outclassed rivals to repeat as continuous-sparring champions at the International Sports Karate Association (ISKA) US Open World Martial Arts Championships in Orlando, Florida.
Richards, 19, confirmed her status as Jamaica's hottest female fighter by going up in weight class, 140-149lb, 18-and-over, to win the women's black belt title after winning at the lower weight last year.
A dual gold-medal winner at the recent ISKA Amateur World Champs in Stuttgart, Germany, Richards is aiming to repeat her 2015 feat of also winning clash-sparring at the Open.
Meanwhile, Cunningham, at 31, turned back the clock on her younger rivals to win the 125lb continuous-sparring title.
"It feels good to know you can go out there with kids way younger than you are, but, trust me, it's not easy," she said, pointing out that she was out of competitive action since winning the ISKA Amateur World Champs gold in Germany last year.
Richards said that going up in weight class has some challenges, but she has coped and hopes to complete the double again.
"It's a little bit harder because I am now fighting girls my height. Yesterday was really rough. After Germany, I had an injury, a swollen foot, so I wasn't up with my cardio. Clash is pretty close to continuous. I am not sure who will be in the division, but I believe I will be able to repeat," she said.