Girl fighters are hard to come by. Especially female fighting champions. But at KOMBAT ARTS TRAINING ACADEMY, there is one right in our very midst: Michelle Sturino.
Unassuming and reserved, Michelle is not a stereotypical champion – hesitant with compliments, quiet-spoken with a pretty and demure smile, she is not what you would expect in a hard-hitting athlete. Even during our interview, I asked to see her championship medal and had to convince her to wear it for the rest of our discussion. But even that didn’t last…After a few teasing gibes by the boys in the front, she promptly took it off (uncomfortable with all the attention she was getting). But what I was most interested in was what made her tick.
Last month, Michelle took home the CSC championship for the Women’s Low-Kick 70 kgs category. It was her first fight and her first attempt to prove her skills in front of a crowd. “I was only nervous before the weigh-ins” she says. “I didn’t get a chance to weigh myself the day before, because the gym kicked me out of the sauna before I could get the chance, so I was very nervous about making weight. But after everything was confirmed and my medical was good to go, I was uber ready.”
She knew nothing about her opponent before seeing her in the ring. “I didn’t want to know who she was,” Michelle insists. “It didn’t really matter. But when I saw her sitting next to me during the medicals, I said to myself, I have this. There is no way I’m losing this fight.” This type of positive thinking was crucial during her grueling 8- week training camp and strict dieting. “At first, the weight wasn’t coming off,” she confesses. “It was really hard not to eat after 9 p.m. It was exhausting. But in the end, I managed to lose 10 lbs to make weight.”
When asked how she coped with the tougher aspects of training, Michelle says, “Sparring was the most helpful; also drilling in the corners. But mostly Joey yelled a lot.” 🙂
Knowing the demands and rigors of training, I wanted to know how she navigated herself through such a difficult process. “For 8 weeks, all I thought about was fighting,” she explains. “This sport weighs on you physically, but even more so mentally.” And she is right. Those who have never fought or trained to fight will never understand the kind of agony, pain, and discipline it takes to rise above a searing punch, a bloody nose, or a broken eardrum.
And Michelle encountered no shortage of challenges during the grueling 8-week training camp. “I injured both of my shins,” she admits. “At times they hurt so much, all we could work on was boxing. There were moments when I asked myself, Why am I doing this again? Oh right…because I said wanted to??” This type of doubt is typical for an athlete during a strenuous training camp. It’s designed to tear you down so they can build you back up. “But at the end of the day, once you’ve overcome those obstacles – the gratification of knowing that you achieved your goal makes it all worth it,” Michelle says. “Sometimes in life, a lot of things aren’t fair – In your career or everyday life, you can be better, smarter, or work harder, but you don’t always see those results. But in this – in fighting, in Muay Thai, in sport, the training paid off and I won the championship. You see the fruits of your labour.”
Perhaps what is so remarkable about her journey is not her amazing accomplishment of winning a National championship on her first try, but why she decided to pursue this in the first place. “Fighting was always on my bucket list,” she explains. “But when my cousin died of cancer this February, someone who was very close to me, I realized it was time to get off my butt and make it happen. I told myself this year I would go for it. I would prove my potential.”
And she sure did. Michelle won by unanimous decision, clinching the title after 3 rounds and somehow, somewhere…I think her cousin is watching over her – SMILING WITH PRIDE.
~ ARTICLE BY: Alice Soon @AliceSoon1 –