Ninja Warriors get a grip in Newcastle | videos, photos

A climbing enthusiast from Maitland upstaged his more fancied rivals when “Ninja Warrior” obstacle racing made its Newcastle debut on Thursday night.

Channel Nine will raise the sport’s profile in the next few months when it starts broadcasting an Australian version of prime-time NBC show American Ninja Warrior.

Some of the competitors from that series, including former army fitness instructor Michael Gleeson, flexed their muscles at Ninja Park Cooks Hill, formerly known as Howzat, on Thursday.

14-year-old Xanthea Vazey shows how it's done

Also competing was Olympic snowboarder and former gymnast Stephanie Magiros, of Sydney, and Newcastle bouldering youth national titleholder Ben Abel.

But 24-year-old Josh Gray upstaged them all, completing the Ninja Parc in three minutes and 22 seconds.

Also on the podium in the elite category were two bolters from Cardiff, 30-year-old rigger and vegetarian Reuban Keeley and 26-year-old gymnastics and fitness instructor Ryan Phillips.

Kotara High student Xanthea Vazey, 14, who trains six times a week at Pulse Climbing, was second against a field of adult men and women in the open category.

Ninja Parc regular April Mutton was third, behind winner Matt Turner.

Stephanie Magiros conquers an obstacle.

“I’ve pushed myself as a snowboarder, I’ve pushed myself as a gymnast, and now I get to push myself as a ninja,” Magiros said.

Gray took home a cheque for $1000 in what Ninja Parc managing director John Pirlo said would be the first of many races at the venue.