Friday, October 9, 2015

Ilonka Elmont and her MuayThai charity in Suriname

You’ll see many exciting ring-entrances in fighting sports today but one of my favourites has always been Ilonka Elmont’s. 

Originally from Suriname in South America, she moved to Holland as a young girl and represented both in her fighting career. Competing across MuayThai and kickboxing at 50 to 52kgs ‘the Killer Queen” picked up seven world titles. I was fighting in Thailand around then, and always looked to her for inspiration. 

Now retired, Ilonka (41) is running a sports foundation in Suriname for kids. We chatted via email about why she’s doing this. 

Q: Why did you decide to focus on sport for your Foundation?

I decided to focus on sport because I strongly believe sport has the power to change the world.  Sport speaks a language that everybody understands, and unites people in a way that little else does.

Sport also has the ability to inspire…

So this is what my Foundation stands for. It’s one of the basics in  every project that we develop or implement.

Q: What did you learn from Muay Thai that you’re bringing to these children?

Muay Thai is an individual sport and uses a different set of dynamics that govern success than with team sports. Every competitive opportunity or fight was my chance to beat my personal best.

So because I wanted to be better and very successful, I learnt to reflect, I learnt to set goals, to focus and to rely on myself. I learnt not to give up on my goals and dreams. I had passion for this and for getting better and better in my own personal journey.

And so through the years I experienced my own success formula which I later on chose to share with others.
I have learnt and I believe that sport can teach values and can help you to develop life skills for example confidence, leadership, courage, persistence,  sacrifice, teamwork, setting goals and dealing with winning and losing and many more.

These are elements that can make you successful in life. So these elements can make children successful in life.

Q: Tell us about your Ilonka Elmont Foundation?

PIC via Ilonka Elmont Foundation Facebook

The Ilonka Elmont Foundation is a young and learning organization. In just five years we became the biggest in organizing sport days (participation and integration) for children with disabilities in this region South America and the Caribbean) 

We work with children with disabilities, but also underprivileged children.

Q: The Foundation’s latest project is the Special Heroes, what’s that about?

Special Heroes Suriname is a (sport)simulation program for children in special primary and secondary education. This program allows children with disabilities to experience how much fun sports and exercise can be and offers them meaningful leisure activities through sport, arts and culture.
The methodology is simple, during the school year, these children learn about art, culture and sport. This simulates interest and if so, we hope that, after school, they join a sport club or an art institution.

In the context of social inclusion we believe Special Heroes Suriname can be the bridge in which children with disabilities will find their way into a total package of structural leisure participation. Our program theme is “everyone can be a hero". 

These children will learn to push boundaries together, each in his own speed and way. Thus a Special Hero.

Q: How can fight fans help you out here?

All our programs are sustainable but to continue these programs we are dependent on funds. 

So if there are sponsors of any size willing and interested, please visit our website Ilonka Elmont Foundation and give…

Make a difference! 

See real girl sport on Facebook for highlight reel of Ilonka's fights and entrance-dance. 


Snowcatcher said...

What a wonderful project! Great interview. I enjoyed reading about the Elmont Foundation!

real girl sport said...

@Snowcatcher - I love seeing what fighters (or any other sport really) can do with their sport after retiring, everyone is so different. And Ilonka was such an inspiration to me for years, great fun doing this...