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Interview with

Lisa Houghton-Smith

Lisa  Houghton-Smith is the current ISKA women's

World Flyweight Muay Thai Champion, 

and also the  current WAKO World Muay Thai Champion.

1. What made you take up fighting?
A: My sister had started and I saw her fight. Even though I'm a PE teacher, I was never much of a team games player and always liked things where it was just your performance that counted. ( I wanted to be an actress at one point and have said that this was another way of getting center stage!) 

2. So how long have you been training now?  
A: 10 years

3. What is your training schedule like?
A: 6 days a week if I'm fighting, 5 if not. I do the obvious pad work, sparring and bag work at the Thai boxing gym 4/5 days a week and cardio work plus weights on the other 1 or 2 days. The type of workout I do depends how close it is to a fight.
The cardio work I do tends to be more in bursts of intense activity as this is how it is when you fight. Richard takes us on the pads a lot near to a fight to help with stamina, power and timing and comes up with a range of evil fitness sessions. I have also worked with Glen Crawford who is a boxing coach but who shares the same sort of coaching ideas as Richard which has helped me a lot. 
At the moment though, being 6 months pregnant, my training schedule involves hitting the fighters at the gym and not being hit back and sitting on an exercise bike giving  instructions to anyone within earshot!

4. When was your first fight? And how old were you? 
A: I started training in Feb 1993, training with my sister Yvonne. I did about a month and then went traveling. When I went back to Leeds in September to the University, I started training with Richard Smith at Badcompany and fought the following Feb - I was 21.  

5. What do you  remember most about  that fight?
A: Being absolutely knackered. It was good fun though!

and what would you do differently in that fight if you could do it over?
Breathing would have helped! and having a look at my opponent occasionally. To me it was just a whirl of arms and legs : ) as I went ballistic from beginning to end. I'd only had about 4 or 5 months of training.

6. Which fight was your most satisfying performance, and why??
A: My first boxing fight with Regina Halmich. I knew I beat her and so did she. I'd expected it to be a lot harder than it was as she had been boxing pro for a while with a big reputation and an undefeated record. I also enjoy fighting 10 rounds. In Thai/kick boxing I couldn't really single one out as I I've enjoyed them all.

7. What is your favorite technique?
A: I love clinch work. I can begin to think that I'm pretty good until I go to train with Master A in Manchester and may as well just sit on the floor as that's where I end up most of the time! I like that you can't be complacent as there's so much to learn.

8.  You have some great Kos to your credit. . Do you really enjoy Ko'ing an opponent? Or do you prefer to simply slowly dismantle them and showcase your skills over the course  of the fight?
A: I never go looking for the KO but if it comes, I am always happy.

9.  I am going to mention a few fighters , and I want you to tell me the first thing  that comes  into your mind, when you think of these persons?

a. Ilonka Elmont?
A: a true champion as she'll fight anyone in any country. This is my measure of a champion, not someone who only fights in their own country with their own judges and people around them. Talks more than me though : ) 

B. Mary Hart?
Very talented ( when your head's switched on Mary  : ) and again will fight anyone anywhere. Richard and Pele (Mary's trainer) have never appreciated our ability to spar and chat simultaneously though!
C. Lolita Candel?
 Fought her a couple of years ago and stopped her.

D. Kim Messer?
I fought her very early in my career (about my 5th fight) under low kicks rules (my first one) over 10 rounds. At that stage it was a big opportunity for me and although I lost, I was pleased with how I fought. I would have loved a rematch under Muay Thai rules.

E.  Asako Kamio?
Big heart but a disappointing opponent as I wanted more of a challenge.

F. Laurence Woo 
A: Tough girl. I fought her for a European title and stopped her in the 5th round.

G. Laura Skinner
A: I've only heard about her fights and not seen any. Met her at the amateurs in Bangkok though and she's was great to chat to. Unfortunate that she's on the other side of the world!

H. Erin Linley.
A: Only seen her at the amateurs in Bangkok and she was padded up; so it's difficult to comment, but she looked to be a good fighter.

10. is there any particular female fighter that you especially admire? If  so, who and  why?
I like and admire many of the women in our sport, particularly the ones who have been around for a while. It can be demoralizing  to experience the lack of recognition/ let downs and difficulty in finding opponents that women in particular have to face. Anyone who sticks at something they love through this is worthy of anyone's admiration.
From another angle, I have seen many performances that I admire. The best I have seen was both fights between Karen Ousey and Shelley Nesbitt.

11. Who would you like to fight next? And under what set of rules?
A: I've never chased anyone. Even with rematches, Richard has always said "they'll come" and they have. It's never been our style to throw out challenges - It's not WWF!  I've fought all rules and opponents and some more than once to get more fights but I always prefer Muay Thai and will probably just take these rules now.

12. Who would you say was  your toughest opponent  to date? What made her so tough?
A: Some of my earliest fights because I lacked the experience to control the pace and ended up having a war, not really any one opponent. Different fights have been hard for different reasons.

13.  is there anyone you would really like to rematch?
 A: Messer or Bianchini under Thai rules;  but they won't happen as Messer's retired and Bianchini's manager won't let her fight me Thai. 

14.. Are  there any foreign countries where you would be especially  interested in going to fight? And what do you want to accomplish  before you retire? or have you already done pretty much accomplished what you set out to do?
A: I've accomplished more than I dreamed of when I set out - I've had some brilliant experiences around the world but winning in Leeds Town Hall in front of my own crowd, and fighting  in Thailand probably comes top of my list. I would like to fight in Japan in the future as it's one of the main fighting places I've not managed to get to.

15. What do you think can  be done to  really  get women's kickboxing and  Muay Thai really popular and moving again?
A: Scrap anyone with 5 fights pro fights or less from any ratings so that they'll get on with it and fight each other - Then the quality will continue to improve and fights will be a pull to a crowd. 
All women shows are not the way as it's the sport we are trying to push.  The promoters who's shows are filmed for TV should just how the best quality fights - be it men or women. Entertaining, good quality fights will keep people watching. There's too much inconsistency at the moment with some cringe worthy fights mixed in with the excellent. 
Keeping on at the media and sites like this will push women's role in the sport along.

16.  What do you  think about three minute rounds for women as well as men?
A: Fine, most of us train that way. I prefer 5 x 3's anyway.

17.  Do you think women are physically capable  fighting three minute rounds?
A: Of course - we already do.

18..  Then, do you think that doing the same five three minute rounds as  the men, would increase respect for Women fighters?
 A: I don't think that the general public notices how long each round is.

19. do you think refs are too quick to stop a women's fight?
A: It depends on the ref and if the show is televised. The only time that I have experienced this was in boxing.

20. why should  promoters book  women fighters? And YOU in particular??
A: This is a professional sport and promoters will only put on fights that will sell tickets or improve the quality of a show. If a women's bout will do this then the promoter would be stupid not to!  Fighters have a role to act professionally - train hard, turn up, sell tickets ( the wife of a promoter is coming out!) I think that my fights are entertaining to watch, people come to see them and if I am matched to fight, it will happen.

21.  what would you like to say to your fans?
A: Hi Richard, Mum, Dad and Grandma W  ... I think that covers them all!
If there is anyone else out there, thanks for your support  and particularly anyone who voted for me in the Sports Awards or has ever shouted for me in a fight.
Thanks to you Dan for setting up the interview and your excellent work with the site. Plus a big thanks to Richard for looking after my Thai boxing career and that of all the fighters in the gym - usually ahead of his own.
Thanks to Lisa for this fascinating interview. Please visit her site at  www.badcompnay.co.uk for more information.


And Congratulations to Lisa and her Husband, Richard Smith!

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