I know Emily from the markets. We worked across from one another for a couple of years and usually closed down the opposing stalls on lazy Sunday afternoons. We would often chat and I knew that she drummed. I also knew that she trained. But I didn’t know she kicked ass. The first time I saw her fight was at the Coburg town hall. I’m pretty sure she kicked someone’s head out of the ring, but I can’t be sure. Regardless of whether or not she killed that opponent she was steadily moving up in the kickboxing world. To my surprise she was going to be fighting for the Australian amateur boxing championship. I had heard about her one amateur boxing bout from my housemate who works with her and trains at the same gym. I’ll let her explain it in her words.
1 I know you as a kickboxer and have watched you fight a few times. What made you try your hand at boxing?
Boxing came about basically just to fill in time between my professional kickboxing bouts. It can be difficult to get a match up in kickboxing/muay thai and with only five fights in two years, my fights felt few and far between. I also maintain my fitness in order to take a fight with little notice plus my kickboxing has a strong boxing foundation so it was just logical to give boxing a shot.
2 Tell us about your recent success? You are the 2012 Australian Amateur Boxing Champion in the Elite Women’s 64kg division. All this after only one fight?
Well, the title was after three fights but to be quite honest, I’m still overwhelmed with how fast everything has happened since my first boxing fight at Calabria Club in early December last year. Going into that fight, I had no expectations, no pressure to win, just the desire to show the boxing association that I could box and to feel what it’s like boxing in the ring. I was also planning to take that fight then train down for the year and have a relaxing Christmas break. I guess it wasn’t to unfold that way. I won 22-11, a very decisive win and one of the head trainers on the Victorian team asked me if I’d like to box on the Vic squad in the nationals coming up in a couple of months. I was totally stoked, very surprised and naturally obliged.
So yeah, it’s all happened very quickly but that’s how opportunities work in sport – they come and go so you have to take them when you can.
Looking ahead, I will be competing in the World Championship selection trials held March 9-11 at the Calabria Club in Brunswick, for a place on the Australian team at the AIBA Women’s World Championships which will be held this year in China May 9-20.
3 How much of the skill set translates between the two? Is there different footwork, since you’re not throwing kicks?
As I mentioned, my kickboxing has a strong boxing foundation so that definitely put me in a good position for boxing. Footwork and distribution of weight throughout the body is different though, you can put much more weight on your front foot which you would otherwise need to keep free in case you wanted to lift it up and kick. In general, kickboxing doesn’t do all that much for boxing however having a strong boxing foundation really helps in kickboxing. I’ve basically been able to leave certain techniques out and focus on sharpening up my boxing skills which will always cross over quite nicely for any kickboxing.
4 Is it hard not to try to kick someone in the head after training for so long at it? Is the instinct there?
I would definitely say that the instinct is there to use my legs (especially as defence) and if I’m mixing my training up sometimes the occasional mistake can happen. However, when I’m training solidly in just boxing my stance is different and weight is distributed differently so I’m not thinking about kicking at all. I spend a lot of time training so it doesn’t take long to switch over mentally to a certain style.
5 Have you stopped training at kickboxing all together, now? Are you going down a new career path after your recent success?
I’m definitely not ruling out kickboxing/muay thai in the future. I love the sport and the style and the plan is to take those fights in the future. For now obviously I’m focussing on boxing as it’s presenting the most opportunities for me and I would love to make a career out of it. Realistically though, anything can happen so I’m going to remain open to as many things as possible in the future.
Since this is a sports blog about punks and politics we’ve got to ask some other questions…
6 How about your diet? You’re vegan. What does that mean for your training?
I think I’m proof that being vegan is great for training. I not only have physically demanding employment and hobbies, but most of the time I ride my push bike as transport and still manage to train very hard. I hardly ever get sick and generally feel very healthy and vibrant and I put this all down to what I put into my body. I have a clean, mostly organic plant based diet consisting of whole grains, nuts, legumes, pulses and of course, fruit and vegetables. Occasionally I indulge with luxury/vegan junk food (hey, we all gotta live a little) but generally I eat a balanced vegan diet that provides me with all the energy and nutrients I need. I think this benefits my training as I never feel sluggish due to what I’ve eaten and I never feel weighed down or congested like the feeling you get after eating meat or dairy. Boxing is a physically strenuous sport, requiring both strength and stamina which puts a lot of pressure on the body to deliver. A lot of people stuck in the old ‘meat and three veg’ way of thinking (which is quite common in boxing circles) believe that meat and dairy are essential for fuelling the body for that kind of activity. I’ve been vegan for 13 years now and boxing and kickboxing for over 3 years, getting everything I need from a diet of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. I get plenty of protein, iron, zinc, and calcium etc by eating my lentils, chickpeas, tofu, tempeh, beans, nuts, grains and vegies without the need for regular dietary supplements. My recent success just strengthens the point that the vegan diet can provide adequate nutrition for the highest level of fitness.
7 What do you eat leading up to a fight?
That all depends on whether I need to drop weight or not. If I don’t need to I can basically just eat my normal diet of cereal for breakfast, a tofu/tempeh sandwich for lunch and a home cooked meal for dinner which mostly consists of brown rice and vegetables with some sort of protein (chick peas, lentils, tofu etc). However, most fighters have to lose a couple of kilos leading up to a fight. I generally go for easily digestible (mostly gluten free), low fat, carbohydrate based light meals during the day such as home baked gluten free muffins with a piece of fruit and a glass of water. Then after training I will have a light dinner such as a tofu salad. I also have to cut out any little naughties like chocolate and sweets which sucks because I have a sweet tooth.
8 Do you cut weight? How hard is that?
Yes, most of the time I have to cut weight before professional bouts although with the amateur boxing tournaments its better to maintain your real weight much closer to your fighting weight. This is because in a tournament situation, you often have more than one fight and boxers are required to weigh in the day of every fight. In that case, there’s much less time to re-hydrate so it’s better to walk around closer to your fighting weight. Cutting weight is never easy given the intensity of training required for fighting and the nutrition one needs to sustain that level of training. It always requires a degree of sacrifice, struggle and ultimately for me, suffering haha but that’s just because I love eating!
9 You also drum. Does the drumming and the boxing go well together, upper body and arm strength?
Yeah it does for sure. Drumming since I was 12 years old has really developed my back, shoulder and arm muscles which made boxing easier for me to take up because I already had some muscles there. Also, coordination skills are developed through drumming as you have all limbs doing different things at the same time and they all have to be in time with the music. That’s definitely helped me coordinate my upper and lower body movements. Another interesting advantage I have found is that the creative side of the mind which is exercised in making music has helped me with my overall feel and understanding of the flow and rhythm of boxing.
10 How many bands are you in right now? Any plugs you want to give?
At the moment I’m drumming in 2 bands – Straightjacket Nation and Bloody Hammer. Straightjacket has a new 7” coming out on Iron Lung Records (due out in May) and Bloody Hammer has just finished recording for an upcoming LP which will be released sometime in the next few months. Straightjacket is playing Total Attack Fest in Brisbane May 4th-6th and Bloody Hammer will be playing the Depression 30 year anniversary at the Bendigo Hotel Saturday March 17.
11 What about politics? Anarchist, feminist, republican, socialist?
Glad you asked Aaron. Its actually not something I talk about much anymore given that a) I’ve graduated from university where I paid to develop, share and challenge my views; b) some people I hang out with have the same views as me so there’s no need to rehash the same old stuff; c) some people I spend time with tend not to think about politics at all and consider those issues over their head and; d) other people have such elementary and/or stupid views that I really don’t want to engage with them on that level. Either way, I believe our politics come out in our actions and in the way we relate to others and our surroundings. My politics are best outlined by one of my favourite radical feminist academics, Bell Hooks who links sexism, racism, classism, capitalism and colonialism in building oppressive values and characteristics in people and society. If you look at what’s going on globally at the moment, especially the social implications of the global financial crisis, you can see the havoc that decades of these repressive issues has inflicted on the world. In our current system, the overwhelming majority of those who enjoy wealth and freedom in today’s society are not women, black, working class or poor people who struggle to make ends meet. They are the executives (the majority of which are first world, middle aged white men) of companies whose profits are often made straight off the backs of under-valued and under-paid workers mainly in third world countries. The reason why labour is found so cheap in those corners of the world is largely a result of colonialism. So, the global meltdown has just reinforced my politics but also made me feel good about the positive way I live my own life. Coming back to the issue of veganism, that’s a massive part of how I demonstrate my politics in everyday life. The average, meat and dairy based diet of rich, Western countries is literally eating up the world. Agribusiness wastes exorbitant amounts of water, human grade food and arable land to raise livestock, creates massive amounts of pollution, often oppresses workers (employing illegal immigrants to do unsafe work such as on the kill floors of major US slaughterhouses) and treats animals as if they were nothing more than pieces of shit on a conveyer belt, without the capacity to feel pain or joy and taking their lives in the most disgustingly inhumane ways. And this is all done to give first world consumers as Mc Donalds puts it “more moo for less moolah”. So if I believe in a fairer world and to see the logical extension of my politics, it would be a total contradiction to eat meat and dairy.
12 Any last words?
Looking back to the eve of my first boxing fight – just before last Christmas! – I have already achieved so much more than what I could have imagined. Even being asked to represent Victoria has been a great experience and I’ve been very proud to wear the uniform and have the opportunity to train with such a great team. It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m currently ranked no. 1 in Australian Amateur Boxing! I am very grateful to have such an amazing trainer, Predrag Galic at Melbourne Martial Arts and look forward to many more fights with him in the future.
I also want to thank you, Aaron and Laura (drawing pending) for the interview, sketches and putting the time and effort into it. I love the concept of this blog – putting sport, politics and punk together is an unlikely combination that tends to have a culture clash but you guys are bringing it together in a really refreshing way so thanks heaps!
To find out more info about the World Championship Selection Trials and other upcoming boxing events go to: www.boxingvic.org.au
Emily’s personal blog: http://www.thewarriorsun.blogspot.com.au/