By Dan Stone and Dan Cucich
is the current IKF World Bantamweight
Muay Thai Champion. This is a composite interview taken from two
different interviews of this brilliant, frank, and outspoken kickboxing
legend-who has one wicked sense of humor. Enjoy!
1. What made you take up fighting?
A: What made me take up
fighting? I've just been a fighter since I was 10 years old. It Seemed
like the best sport
to me. I like a challenge which lets you see parts of yourself that you
otherwise wouldn't meet. I like to be tested.
2. So how long have you been training now?
A: This is my 9th year of
3. What is your training schedule like?
A Training schedule:
Morning gym work, depending on style of fight and stage in preparation.
Afternoon running, resting at night.
4. When was your first
fight? And how old were you?
A: I punched a boy in the face when he said girls can't fight. I was 22
for my first full contact fight in 1994 at the Sydney town Hall.
5. What do you remember
most about that fight?
A: My opponent was overconfident and had no neck. I was a slender young
thing. The fight ended after 18 seconds when she turned her back and ran
5a: And what would you do
differently in that fight if you could do it over?
A: I wouldn't do much
differently, my prep was thorough.
6. You've fought Oriental rules, international rules, and Muay Thai
rules. which do you prefer?
A: I haven't had a
kickboxing fight for 3 years. That would be my favourite style, but I'm
pretty dangerous in that style. Muay Thai is fun too, grappling makes it
hard to punch.
7. What is your favourite technique?
A: Favourite technique?
The one that is landing for me today. It changes, sometimes the legs are
open, sometimes front kicks work, sometimes boxing works better. It
depends on who I'm fighting, really.
8. You have a very high knockout percentage. Do you really enjoy Ko'ing
an opponent? How does it feel to see your opponent laying there at your
feet? Does make you feel powerful? or A little badly for them? or what?
A: The First feeling is
relief that the fight is over and I won. If they stay down too long it
turns into a medical emergency and I'm very worried. I feel bad later
because they may not fight again after a scary KO.
I just fight with faith that she is fit and strong and can look after
herself. That's why there is so much respect between fighters, just
sometimes a KO happens. It could happen to anyone. Initially a
Knockout victory is exciting.
When I fight far from home, which is about every time
I fight cause it is against the law n my home state, I feel like the
only way to win is to stop my opponent. I've had too many close fights
not go my way, and a convincing win marred by a split decision
Having said that, I don't actually try to knock people out, its just
always in the back of my mind. I just try to stay calm and focus on my
attack. Sometimes I do this better than other times.
The next day I'm aware I've damaged another person and I feel a little
bad, but not too bad. We are fighters in there, sharpening and
developing our art. I could have been the more damaged one.
I've been putting together my KO tape and I'm starting to realize why
no-one in Australia feels ready to fight me. I have been getting
knockouts from the early stages. If anything, I'm safer to fight now
that I've learnt how to stop people with body work. And I've stopped the
"to the death" sparring. That doesn't seem to reassure them.
Its like at school, I got so good at playing marbles, no-one would take
me on. I really like fighting for it's own sake, its not about hurting
people or proving myself better then someone. There is no ego, I just
want to improve my knowledge and understanding. I know there are heaps
of girls who can have a good fight with me in the U.S. I need to be in
touch with some promoters to negotiate a match.
9. Tell us about your fight with your friend Laura
A. Laura is a friend. I'm sure anyone that has come into contact with
her has been touched by her focus in the ring and easy sportsmanship.
As for our fight, I fought Laura in 1996. After my first fight with Jale
Osmon, which I lost. (she was there) and before my first Muay Thai fight
in Japan against Naoko Kumagai.
"Kickboxing" is illegal for girls in N.S.W, (New South Wales)
but "Kung Fu" was exempt from the legislation due to it being
a "chinese cultural event" True. So I had a rare home fight.
I'm used to travelling.
Her management insisted I weigh in a 54.5kg. I did. She was 56kg, the
reason being was her period, and fluid retention, from the 1 hour flight
from Melbourne. My trainer didn't try to weaken her with last minute
weight loss. He didn't like to do that sort of thing. Even when I fought
Sharon Anyos for the first time, the weight was 58kg. I came in at 56kg
(over trained by him) and she came in at a porky 62kg. I'm sure I would
have won that fight, her kickboxing is predictable. Guess he was just a
Shall I cut to the fight with Laura ? It was an epic war with me on top
for most of the time. Can I just say here how much I like and respect
Laura based on her energy and behavior during the fight? We were facing
off with the ref before the fight and we laughed at her whopping great
groin guard. Friendly. She evaded my efforts to inside leg kick her, but
when the leg touched the ground I went for it again and got it hard. I
felt a little anxiety coming from her. Tell you what it felt like to me,
like all her opponents so far had been too soft to push her. So, my
power was a little more than what she had dealt with before. She handled
it well though, never lost her focus and never gave up scoring. A tendon
injury in my foot gave way in the first round. Ever stood on a nail?
That's how it felt. I lost the ability to leg check, so I spent the next
few days trying to bend my leg. From knee to hip I was welted. Never
been hurt so much from a fight.
The second round she threw six sly illegal knees to my thighs, I felt
the danger of the technique but she was warned not to do it again.
Shortly after that I landed a cracking right on her head somewhere. That
pretty much knocked the fight out of her but man she hid it well. She
had really good survival skills, wrapped me up. Kept me too busy to load
up again. I couldn't plant my feet anyway.
Plan B. I Spent the last three rounds pretty much just pushing her
around, into the ropes, corners. She taught me a few good tricks, use of
the head, knees. Last time she kneed me (it was NOT a knee fight) I
pushed her into the ropes and kneed her back as hard as I could. When
the bell went we stopped mid punch and she said with a smile, "you
won that fight". Probably the best attitude I have ever encountered
in an opponent. Fought with courage.
I wanted to fight her again cause she's fun, I'm no super human, eh?
anyone who's been fighting awhile can have a good fight with me. We all
have two arms, two legs and a brain. I'm pretty tough because I was
never protected, not only did my trainer throw me in the ring with
anyone, he would spar me mercilessly every weekend. After fighting a
72kg male every week, the girls were fun.
10. I am going to mention
a few names, and I want you to tell me the first thing that comes into
your mind, when you think of these persons?
a. Julie Woods
Asheís just pulled out of our rematch. Iím disappointed cause I
think she was unlucky last time we fought. She has a goog variety of
attacks. She was a little stiff when we fought in 2000 and I stopped her
in the first round with knees.
b. Lynette Els?
A: That was my World IKF
Bantamweight Title fight .- Lyn Els from South Africa. Thunderlegs
Promotions was planning a big one. America vs. Australia. The date was
postponed and the Americans had to pull out due to other fight
commitments. Then, With four weeks to go, new opponents were found in
South Africa. Lyn Els for me. I knew she was older than me, had around
20 fights and two early losses. Closer to the fight date, I found out
she had won her last 10 fights by KO. And I Saw her photo, she looked
really mean. Coldest fight energy I've ever encountered. Beating her was
like beating the bogeyman, for me. Nothing personal, I have no idea what
she's like outside a fight. She's had a pretty flawless career. Perhaps
she could have extended her style to include guarding her legs before
she met me.
c. Naoko Kumagai ?
A: Naoko gave me my first grappling lesson when we fought in Japan. I
spent most of the fight with my face under her armpit.
She is a brave and strong fighter. I was an awkward handful after only 7
fights, think I tore her outfit with a front kick.
d. Rebecca "The Wrecker" Russell
A: Between us, me and Laura Skinner, retired Rebecca. When we were
babies, she was touted as the next big thing in Australian Kickboxing.
Hah! she could box well but I had too much raw aggression and power. She
represented everything I don't like about women fighting, a girly girl
with make up, fighting in a skirt.
There's nothing wrong with dressing however the hell you like, but she
wasn't doing that, she was being grown as a draw card based on her
"feminine" attributes, not her value as a warrior. I knocked
her out in the third round and Laura punished her from pillar to post
for four endless rounds.
e. Amanda Buchanan
A: I'm thinking of asking her for some boxing sparring, if she is still
it. She has superb balance. I've been disappointed that we've never had
a rematch our first boxing fight.
10. is there any particular female fighter that you especially admire?
If so, who and why?
A: I admire anyone who
doesn't play safe.
11. Who would you like to fight next? And under what set of rules?
A: I want to Box for the
Australian Featherweight title,
12. Who would you say was your toughest opponent to date?
What made her so tough?
A: Toughest opponent? My
third fight, I don't remember her name. I didn't have the skill to
finish her off and she wouldn't give up. I wont be too graphic but I
hurt her lots and she didn't stop trying till the referee stopped it in
the third round.
Also, Jale Osman was a big hitter who wouldn't give up, either. She
fought me till she dropped. For me, a tough opponent is one with a
And Lynette Els for my
first world title attemptÖ
Two months earlier I'd
won the Commonwealth Title by putting Jale Osman to sleep for 3 minutes.
That is a long time to be hanging round waiting for someone to wake up
after you've just been trying to kill them. She was fine, though, just
gave the sport up. Until I knocked her out, I'd say she was my hardest
Jale's brother had a seat
at the judges table for this fight. He was on my side. She hid her body
at the weigh in, so the first sight I had of her stringy big muscles was
when we faced off to fight. I had to look up, she was a head taller than
me. I was having a rare home match. Kung Fu lost its exemption from
seeking a permit after this "brutal" fight.
I was alone in the
dressing room for much of the evening, my trainer really busy with 5
other fighters. I could feel part of me deciding whether to try to win
or just survive the fight. I jammed my thumbnail under my nose for 10
mins at a time (it's a Chinese focusing technique) every time I felt my
courage falter. Felt the familiar fading of everything except the fight
coming up. She was in the ring already when I walked in. There were too
many people with me, I'm used to being by myself and far from home. And
I Could feel their expectations of a win like an extra weight in my
heart. I remember looking at her muscles at the face off, thinking:
"damm she's big" then, little laugh, "well this should be
interesting, lets see what you make of this, wildcat."
Round one: She's punching without end. No opening, no pause, just a kick
and 20 punches, paced just right to keep my guards up and head down. I
push her head with my left, punch her with my right. Ah, ref warns me,
chance to step back. Fat lot of good that did, same again.
I keep my guards high and start swinging leg kicks. One lands hard on
her inside leg and her mouth guard drops out. I look at her - this is a
10 round fight, is she going to punch like that all night? Jay Osman is
indicating franticly for me to use the big right. Too soon honey, but
I'll throw one for you. That got her, there is a mouse (bruise) already,
but she side kicks, lands forward and gives me a right of her own. I'm
starting to understand where her KO record comes from: Fluster her
opponent, then bomb.
I tie her up, hit her again, start kicking a bit at her legs and the
bell goes. "Well?" He looks straight into my eyes "COME
BACK" Oh, right, "What's going on in there?" I had been
feeling the balance of win/survive again "Ok, her punches don't
sting, and she doesn't seem to be leg checking." As I said it I
knew it was true and the win side came out on top.
Round two. "FRONT KICK" yells my other trainer. Good idea. I
push her a few steps back. Crowd goes nuts. She attacks and I kick her
again. Crowd starts a chant with my name. The weight now behind me. She
tries the side kick land forward technique again but I'm waiting for a
chance to kick her legs and this one sends her staggering. I throw her
down. Now her legs have had it. She doesn't leg check anything. Bit of a
chink in her style, huh? I kick three more times, she tries the side
kick again this time she lands hard on her back. Then she lies in wait
with her big right, but she missed. Maybe she couldn't bend the leg
already. I switched to my hands a while and then relaxed. Save some for
later. You do something now. No? Ok. A little tap to the inside thigh
and she drops again. Back to the white corner. Surely, that's it? Nup.
Bell went. "Yer doing well, keep it up" pats my leg and
leaves. Textbook corner work. I'm thinking, this round I'll practice my
boxing. Tap her legs when I want the fight to stop. As I stood up I
thought I'd just do something unexpected to get some points. I never
meant to knock her out with that kick to the head, but she stayed
dropped for about a minute.
I asked her if she wanted to go for a beer after the fight, I heard her
voice for the first and only time. "No."
13. Is there anyone you would really like to rematch?
A: Yeah, I'd like to
rematch the Japanese girl I last fought in Perth, in 2002. Asako
Yonezawa-Saioka. I took the fight on short notice and think I nearly
won anyway. She has a world title I want.
14 Tameeka Ransome. What can you tell us about her?
A: I Just fought Tameeka
under full Thai rules. ( September 3rd, 2003) She was really effective
in the grapples but I managed to hurt her with my kicks and punches, and
survived the grapples enough to get the decision. She could have varied
her attack much more. By the end of the fight I could pick exactly what
she was going to do and she paid with an embarrassing face plant when I
pushed kicked her on the back.
15.. Are there any foreign countries where you would be especially
interested in going to fight?
A: Japan please. Strong
fighters and different culture. Anywhere else that will have me.
17. What do you think can be done to really get women's kickboxing and
Muay Thai really popular and moving again?
A: Bet on it.
18. What do you think about three minute rounds for women as well as
A: I'm in favour of three minute rounds. Especially for Muay Thai. Two
minutes' they grab you, you knee each other then the round is over.
Feels more like a real test of will and preparation over three rounds.
19. Do you think women
are physically capable fighting three minute rounds?
A: Yes, it shouldn't even
be raised as a question.
20. Then, do you think that doing the same five three minute rounds as
the men, would increase respect for Women fighters?
A: You treat people like
they are strong and they will be.
21. do you think refs are
too quick to stop a women's fight?
A: Sometimes. They
Definitely were way back when I started. I hope its getting better
everywhere, not just here in Australia. It's insulting, belittling and
frustrating when a ref cant do a professional job. Erring on the side of
caution is just as bad as letting a fight go too far.
22. Do you think men in
general tend to treat women in a manner that is condescending ?
A: I have as little to do
with men as possible. Where I come from itís illegal for women to
fight cause it made the governMENt uncomfortable. Do you find that
condescending? They still have no inclination to amend this 17year old
law despite me asking them in every way, from polite inquiries to
challenging the law in Federal Court.
As a woman I find that
insulting, patronizing, belittling and it makes it hard for me to live
happily in this society.
So I donít. Iím no
man hater, why waste the energy? Iím as unenthusiastic about them as
they are about me. I hate that so many women are consumed totally by
looking after these big babies. Itís so hard to see a reality outside
the conventional one, until you step there.
Being a fighter helps,
thatís kinda outside understood society anyway.
Ok, enough already. You
pushed the rant button.
23. What advice would you
give to new fighters?
A: Don't overuse spinning the techniques and don't follow the shouted
advice of your corner immediately, your opponent can hear them too.
24. why should promoters
book women fighters? And YOU in particular??
A: I'm lovely to work with. Always grateful to be fighting. My fights
are exciting to watch because I'm intuitive and usually really fit.
Girls have more to prove so we try harder. What would you rather see,
two thrashing beginner blokes or some experienced conditioned athletes
sharpening their art on each other?
25. what would you like to say to the fans?
A: I Hope you get as much
meaning and enjoyment out of fighting as I do. It's about improving my
skill and testing my style, not about beating someone else down. Thanks
for your attention.
like to Thank Dan Stone who contributed significant portions of his
conversations with Ms Ferneley to this interview.