Kevin VanNostrand’s parents insisted he choose a sport and stick to it. He chose martial arts.
“As a young teenager, I wanted to fight on TV,” professional kickboxer VanNostrand told amNewYork. “I wanted to be on the big screen doing something, and I was so good at fighting that my dad said, ‘Hey, you want to be on TV some day? You have an opportunity.’”
VanNostrand (14-1, 10 KOs) will bask in his biggest exposure to date when he competes in a featherweight tournament at Glory 43 New York on Friday night. The event takes place at The Theater at Madison Square Garden and will be broadcast on ESPN2. The Muay Thai specialist will take on Matt Embree in the semifinal with the opportunity to compete again in the final later in the evening.
Originally from upstate Liverpool, near Syracuse, the 30-year-old found the level of discipline and respect offered in martial arts appealing growing up.
“It’s nice being at a young age and calling adults ‘sir’ and them respecting you back and them calling you ‘sir,’ ” he said. “So I liked it, and I got good at it too, so might as well perfect what you’re good at, right?”
VanNostrand has been electric since turning pro, with his only loss coming in 2016 against Giga Chikadze, a fight he took on three weeks’ notice. With Chikadze also competing in Friday’s tournament, VanNostrand may have an opportunity to avenge the only blemish on his record.
“It doesn’t matter the opponent, I’m here to show the world what I’m made of,” he said. “I want to let everyone know at 143 pounds that I will be the best in the world.”
A new pool of fighters are vying for attention in New York after the state gave the green light to host MMA events in 2016. But VanNostrand is confident he’ll put on a show Friday.
“This is the best opportunity I’ve had,” he said. “I’m ready. I had a great training camp, and it’s a dream come true.”