Friday, August 7, 2015

IFMA Hall of Fame nominee Sue Latta

MuayThai IFMA Sue Latta New Zealand
Sue in 2014 with IFMA's children in Bangkok classes

Final votes are going in online for the IFMA Awards 2015.

Sue Latta from New Zealand is one of the women nominated. To me Sue sums up the story of women in MuayThai. She started in 1992 when women were nothing more than a sideshow to the boys, earned respect in the tough gyms of New Zealand and Thailand across MuayThai, kickingboxing, boxing and MMA. 

She holds titles from WKA, ISKA, WFSB, SKA, the South Pacific boxing title, IFMA world championships gold, silver and bronze as well as world titles from the WMC, WKBF, WFKKO and the WFSB titles at 65 and 70kgs*. 

Sue then turned to opening the door even wider for the next generation of women fighters. 

We chatted by email about her nomination to the Hall of Fame Female (IFMA Awards 2015). The International Federation of MuayThai Amateur has brought the amateur sport to a place where Olympic inclusion is no longer just a fantasy. 

MuayThai IFMA Sue Latta New Zealand
Q:  What keeps your passion for MuayThai burning?

I love the sense of family and belonging Muaythai brings to my life. My friends are from a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds but we all share the same love of Muaythai and its rich culture. We share a passion that creates a bond across the world regardless of language, gender, religion and more.

The stark contrast between the pugilistic side of our sport and the depth of caring and compassion that seems to be typical of Muaythai athletes and participants has always fascinated me. 

And it’s inspired me to help break down the barriers and misconceptions of fighting athletes whether they are male or female.  

Q: You're head of the IFMA Female Commission - why did you take that on?

There were very few international opportunities for me during my competitive career. I had to beg ‘n’ plead with promoters to put on female fights beyond my own local region.

Gaining an international title was close to impossible. The female fight pool was small and promoters were more interested in promoting male athletes as they received more coverage.

Q:  How have attitudes to women fighters changed in your time?

The growth of women's Muaythai has increased so significantly over the last 15 years that in some countries the participation is higher amongst their female athletes.

But it’s the respect given to our female athletes amongst the Muaythai community that makes me most proud. Women and girls are described as ‘a talented fighter’ or ‘a skilled athlete’ rather than being wholly defined by their gender as used to happen. 

MuayThai IFMA Sue Latta New Zealand
New Zealand team for IFMA Championships 2007
Q: What makes your heart sing now about the MuayThai scene for women?

I’m really proud of the federation itself.

My dream was to participate as an equal in a male dominated sport; to be respected as an educated woman and retired athlete. Now I’ve been given the task of building the International Female Commission. This allows me to help women around the world both within the sport and in collaboration with the UN Women and their UNiTE campaign to stop violence against all women and girls.

MuayThai IFMA Sue Latta New Zealand
Sue representing on the IFMA Committee

It is my greatest desire to help empower woman and IFMA has given me the opportunity to realize this dream.

What more could I want?

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