Sexuality Selling “Fit”? Future MMA fighter? What it’s like to fight the first time…
The past month or so I have been blessed to be training with a group of not only exceptional coaches and athletes, but just all around exceptional people. Just on the side bend of Bridgewater MA’s Manley street, is a stretch where you will find Bishop’s Training facility. Inside you might find your typical ropes, weights, bags, cage, ring, pads, gloves and vast array of other training goodies both indoors and outdoors, but it is the people that make each place, such as this one, unique. From champion mma, boxing and muay thai fighters, to military and police officers, every day moms, dads, kids, students… and let us not forget the 15 year old NAGA bluebelt under Carlos Terrinha AND beauty queen champ who tears it up here. I have learned so much training with these amazing people and one of the girls, or shall I say ladies, who I had the pleasure of sparring with, is Muay Thai up and comer and mma hopeful, Laura Kangiser. She has been training at Bishop’s with her fiancee for some time and has a few fights under her belt now and is looking to continue and to improve as well as learning more of the ground game to branch out into mma. I am all about trying to promote any good woman, especially in the sport I LOVE and I wanted you to be given the opportunity to learn a little more about this spectacular woman before she gets so big that she forgets the little people 😉 Learn about some of what it was like for her to fight for her first time, her prep, her goals in life and with fighting and her take on women using their sexuality to get noticed in the sport here:
1. How many fights have you had and tell me a little about them?
I’ve had 3 amateur fights, and my record is 2-1. My first fight was actually for an amateur kickboxing world champion title (unbeknownst to me, I had only been training in muay thai/kickboxing for 2 months!), and it was against a girl whose record blew me out of the water. She had already fought over 21 times! I went into the fight knowing the girl was way more experienced than me, but I’m not the type to back out of a fight. She won by decision, and man did she punish me during that fight, but no matter what she threw at me, she couldn’t put me away. That really gave me the confidence to train my butt off and get back in there. Since that fight, I’ve won two in a row, one in kickboxing and one in muay thai, and I plan on getting more W’s under my belt!
2. How long did you train before your fight(s)? Were you doing some strength and conditioning or just sport specific training?
Before each fight, I had approximately 8-12 weeks’ worth of hard workout regimens, some really intense classes with my muay thai instructor, former world muay thai champion Mohamed Hadifi, and plenty of sparring with the other fighters from my gym, Bishop’s Training and Fitness. My daily workout routines basically consisted of running a few miles, then lots of strength training and speed drills, mostly under the instruction of my fiance, Paul, who also fights amateur muay thai.
3. How long have you been involved in martial arts and/or combat sports?
When I was little, I did kempo karate like most little boys or girls with too much energy. I got distracted easily though, so I moved onto other things like soccer and softball. When my fiance and I moved in together, he tried to get me to go to one of his muay thai classes for a solid year before I agreed to it. After my first class, the instructor asked me if I wanted to start fighting. I had never thought about it before, but I really enjoyed the rush it gave me. I’ve been fighting ever since!
4. Do you want to branch out into mma or stick to muay thai?
My end goal is to branch out into MMA, though I’d like to have maybe one or two more muay thai fights first. I’ve already had a little training in jiu jitsu, and I can’t wait to start up again at the end of August. It’s been tough waiting for that first MMA fight, though. I dream about it almost every night.
5. Your fiancee is not only your life partner but your training partner, do you feel that this helps you with your training that much more since he knows you so well or does it hinder things or create arguments?
At first, I thought it wasn’t a great idea for him to train me, since I get so fired up when he tries to get that extra rep or combination out of me, but he really knows my limits. Better than I know myself! Plus, it doesn’t hurt that we get to punch each other in the face. I call it couples’ therapy!
6. What was your first experience like fighting?
It was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. Having my first fight be the main event! Warming up in that back room, waiting to go out there and put on a show..it was unreal. Oddly enough, I wasn’t even nervous. I think I was too busy trying to make a game plan. It’s ironic when I think about it now, not being nervous my first time, since I’ve felt nervous before my two fights since then. I guess I wasn’t nervous because I really had no idea what to expect. I was too focused on not tripping over the ropes on my way into the ring!
7. If you could train with/learn from/ spar with anyone, who would that be and why?
Oh, that’s a ridiculously long list. I’d have to say my first choice would be Gina Carano. She was the one who really opened my eyes to how far you could make it as a female MMA fighter. She has some serious standup skills that I would love to learn from her. Another would have to be Ronda Rousey, she’s another pioneer for women’s MMA who has gotten so much attention drawn to the sport. She’s such a strong woman, and she always backs up whatever she says, which I really admire. Though if I ever had the opportunity to train with her, I’d have to make sure I learned every defense for an arm bar there is before I rolled with her!
8. You mentioned that you are looking to become a personal trainer, was this sparked by your involvement in martial arts? Why do you want to become a trainer?
Before I started fighting, I was the typical 23-year old who drank beer, played video games and didn’t really care too much to exercise. Once I started training, I realized that there’s way more to exercising than just losing weight. I started having more energy, which I always struggled with. I got stronger both physically and mentally, and stopped craving all the foods that I knew were bad for me. I finally knew how it was to just feel GOOD. I started giving some workout tips to friends that were struggling to get healthy, and I realized I had developed a real passion for fitness. All I want to do is help people better themselves and get them feeling as good as I do now.
9. What is something that you would like to see change for women trying to grow in the combat sports or martial arts arenas?
Have it broadasted on TV! I think Strikeforce really paved the way for other organizations to start showcasing all the female talent there is out there, it’s just a shame there aren’t too many female fights you can catch on TV. I always see them streamed online, and there are some serious female athletes out there who deserve a fair shake in getting some hype around them. That was something Ronda Rousey’s been really good at. She has Dana White wearing her face on his t-shirt! That’s something special.
10. Tell me a little about your nutrition and training leading up to your fights as well as your weekly routine.
When I have a fight in my sights, I immediately start eating really clean, tons of veggies and fruits. Recently, my fiance and I have cut red meat out of our diet, eating mostly fish and a little chicken from time to time. You can really feel the difference when you aren’t consuming tons of extra calories you know you won’t burn off. You just feel lighter, I guess. I also go to bed MUCH earlier than usual, to help with recovery from the intense workouts I go through. The cornerstone of my workout regimen is cardio. Running has helped me so much with both losing the extra weight I need to cut before a fight, and regulating my breathing to make sure I don’t gas out during my fight. My fiance and I do very long sets involving lots of repetitions at varying weights, designed to build up endurance and strength quickly. It seems like every week that I discover a muscle I never knew I had! We try to rest on Sunday, pushing it hard the rest of the week. Sometimes, we still end up doing some pad work or sparring.
11. What do you hope to accomplish in continuing to get out there fighting? (some of your goals)
I want to make it big! I dream of myself stepping out into that cage, surrounded by thousands of people screaming my name, knowing they’re there to see a great fight. I want fans! I want to prove myself as a mixed martial artist, and know what it’s like to finally achieve what I’ve been dreaming about for so long. I want my grandkids to want to watch my old fight tapes!
12. What are some of your favourite supplements that you use, training gear?
I’m big on my green tea extract, it really helps wake me up and get my metabolism going in the morning. We’ve been trying out this organic vegan protein powder for our after workout shakes. I’ve never really experimented with supplements though, there are alot out there that I haven’t tried yet! As for gear, I’m big on Title MMA for shin guards, Revgear for my muay thai pads, Everlast for gloves and head gear. I’m still using my Shock Doctor mouthguard that I’ve had for 3 years! And I always get my muay thai shorts from Raja, Siam Tops, Windy, and a few more I can’t remember.
13. What are some of your favourite things to do when you are not training?
I’m a reading fanatic. I love anything by Stephen King, Dean Koontz.. I’m reading the Game of Thrones books right now, and it’s tough to put them down long enough to work out! I’m not big on going out, I’m really a home body at the end of the day.
14. How do you feel about women using their sexuality in promoting themselves within the sport?
I think that if you’re an attractive female, people are going to notice it, whether you intentionally draw attention to it or not. If the fact that you’re pretty catches the crowd’s eye, I think it’s just an opportunity to show them how well you fight. I’m sure there are some girls out there that exploit this fact, and aren’t busting their butts every day to be the best fighter they can be, but when they get their chance and blow it, I think that loss will speak for itself. It’s only human nature to be drawn to those who are “more fun to look at”. It’s just a shame when that human nature causes great athletes to be looked over.
15. What does it mean to you to be a role model as a woman athlete?
I can only hope to BE a role model someday! I want girls to know that it isn’t “unfeminine” to be strong and a skilled fighter. I think that strength only makes you sexier! If someone is intimidated by the fact that you can look beautiful in both a dress AND a set of gloves and some Under Armour, they aren’t worth your time. I hope one day, women everywhere will see me and think “There goes a real fighter.”
FRIEND LAURA ON FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/#!/laura.kangiser