King in the Ring opponents battle food before fight

This Friday, eight of the country’s best lightweight kickboxers will converge at Auckland's ASB Stadium for the most anticipated kickboxing King in the Ring event. This year's events sees Tūwharetoa's Sam 'The Shank' Hill compete for the first time.

Eight fighters, but only one King. It's a test of endurance and skill, the winner has to defeat three opponents in one night.

“Everyone in eight men's a threat. Its top opponents,” says Hill.

It may be called King in the Ring however, these athletes' diets are anything but royal. Hill has been on a strict diet for six weeks to make the 62kg weight.

“The first four weeks were fine, just eating clean cutting out all the junk food, tim tams mcds. But the last two weeks is when I'm really starting to deplete my carbs and this week I'm starving myself.”

A dangerous lifestyle however thankfully for Sam there's is no end of support from his notorious fight family, partner, Baybee 'Pitbull' Nansen, an NZ featherweight champ, and coach in-laws Antz and Victoria Nansen.

“My partner's brother Antz Nansen has been another big help in my fight career, a lot of experience he's a world champion and KOTR 8 man champion twice. Definitely helps to have all the whānau into it as well.”

And though a title may be nice, he's looking forward to the biggest reward of all.

“I've got a big list on my phone of where I'm going after the weigh-in. I've already done all my weigh in shopping, got me like some chocolates and all sorts.”