Q: You hit and kick people in the head for a living right?
A: I used to get a small payment (larger if I won) whilst I was fighting towards the end of my career. I hung my gloves up in 2004 when I was 30, these days I just teach. It was unfortunately no way near enough to live on and I always maintained a full time job. There isn’t a great deal of money in the sport, particularly for women in the UK. If you can get onto the world stage it is a slightly different story although even then there are still very few full time female athletes.
Q: What kept you going in what must have been a very male dominated sport?
A: Luckily for me I am the kind of person who doesn’t really mind what others think of me or what others are doing around me. Often as the only female training I generated interest, some was useful as it meant I couldn’t shrink into the back of the gym unnoticed and had to perform every single session. The more chauvinistic or amorous attention I generated only fuelled my training to a more intense level to prove what I felt I was worth.
Q: So what does it feel like?
A: Full body mastery is one of the best feelings in the world. Kickboxing is a gruelling sport you have to be ultra fit, walking around in real life with that kind of aerobic capacity and musculature made me feel powerful from the inside out. I felt in control of my life and stable, I felt that knocks in life couldn’t penetrate me, more importantly I felt calm and peaceful….without wanting to sound like a hippy I imagine it to be as close as ill ever experience to a zen like state of mind.
Q: You must have to detest your opponents?
A: It’s easy to see why everyone thinks this to be. Take a look at the sport, the fighters involved and the very nature of the competition. Yes of course it hurts when you get kicked or punched, more so in your mind than through your body’s pain receptors. You are vexed that your opponent managed to outwit you to land a scoring blow on you, or that she found a way through your defence, or caught you out with a trick combination that you fell for. But you absolutely mustn’t lose your cool calm composure or show pain flicker across your face or get mad, you must stay in control keep your poker face and work out a tactical counter to score winning points back. As soon as you get angry and bring hatred amongst other emotion into the ring you will have shown her your hand and lost technical control and it won’t be long before she unpicks you. It is a fundamental winning rule of the fight game.
Q: What happens next?
A: As with any athlete who has given their life over to a passion I found it hard to walk away from the ring. I teach a women’s kickboxing class and run a project called Skilled Company with my friend where we open the boxing gym up for free weekly for 90mins to local youths who have been causing anti social behaviour and are known to the police. It is immensely rewarding on so many levels and I feel blessed to have finally found such a productive and effective release for my passion.
Kirstin Ahmed is a fulltime personal trainer based in the Brighton area. To contact her or find out anything more about women’s boxing and kickboxing go to www.brightonfit.co.uk