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An experience of a lifetime

PHUKET: On Friday September 28, at the age of 52 years I stepped into the ring at Bangla Boxing stadium to take part in my first Muay Thai fight.

Monday 8 October 2012, 11:00AM

My opponent was in her twenties, taller and heavier than me. I asked myself “How the heck did I end up here”?

Back in 2006 I separated amicably from my husband of two decades. As we were packing up the family home in preparation for sale I pulled a suitcase from a top shelf of the wardrobe and accidentally knocked out one of my central upper incisors. There was no possibility of repair. The dentist told me that I had a choice between a plate or a dental implant. The thought of wearing a dental plate was unbearable. The cost of an implant was over $AUD 5000. I didn’t bat an eyelid and paid the money for an implant.

That got me thinking. If I was happy to pay $5000 for one tooth, what else could I have got done for the same amount of money, and what would I fix?

New boobs, liposuction, tummy tuck? What I really wanted was a whole body makeover. That got me thinking about a personal trainer. And so it began.

Eight months later I ran my first marathon. In 2010 I completed a half Ironman and then the full Ironman in 2011.

After the Ironman I hit a mental wall. I had lost my drive. I gained a few kilos and was becoming tired and lethargic. At the beginning of September I decided to heal my body and soul by coming to Sumalee Boxing Gym for 28 days. The mission was to get physically and mentally rejuvenated, and to be in the best possible shape by the end of the 28 days.

Two weeks into the camp the mission changed. After consultation with Oron the head trainer I had decided to fight. I had never even watched a live fight before. The thought of fighting had never appealed to me, however it just seemed like a natural conclusion to this challenge.

I had grown very close to two of the young fighters here. They were from Costa Rica and were training at the camp. They pushed and encouraged me. Marcela Baitong Sumalee had been winning fight after fight and I studied her videos constantly. Mauricio Calvo Siles, her partner and fellow fighter, gave me endless advice and support.


Just prior to the fight Mauricio found out that his mother was unwell and they have since had to return to Costa Rica to support her in HER fight.

On the night I entered the ring I was physically totally prepared, I had been trained hard. I had lost almost 10 per cent body fat and gained significant amounts of muscle. I did not feel nervous or scared. I just wanted to do well for my trainer and for the gym.

I don’t remember too much about the actual fight. It was stopped before the end of the first round. My only real memory is of kicking my opponent and hearing the sound of flesh on flesh. It was shocking to me. At that moment I froze. I didn’t defend myself at all. I haven’t seen the video yet but I have been told that I pretty much just closed my eyes and stood there. I could feel the kicks to my body, the knees to my abdomen and the gloves to my head and face, but I was frozen in time. When the ref eventually broke us apart and led me to my corner I didn’t realise the fight had been stopped. I thought the bell must have gone. My trainers were telling me not to worry, I couldn’t understand why they weren’t putting the stool out for me to sit on.

I wasn’t out of breath, I didn’t and still don’t have any bruises or pain. I have no idea why I couldn’t fight. It has been suggested that I was scared of getting hurt. I can honestly say that that never entered my mind. It is as if at the moment I landed that first kick I realised that I didn’t want to do this.

Now that I have had more time to reflect I realise that it takes an awful lot more than strength and fitness to be a fighter and I did and do not have what it takes.

I have no regrets at all. I put my heart and soul into the training as did my trainer. I am in the best physical shape I have been in for decades. I feel relaxed and rejuvenated.


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