Friday, December 30, 2016

Most popular blogposts on realgirlsport in 2016

How was your 2016? There are many tragic events to reflect upon but maybe that is why people are gravitating more and more towards inspiring sports stories. Are we looking for a ballast in a world gone mad, or looking for a spark of humanity in the mayhem?

Whatever it is you are loving women in sport more and more every year. Of course that makes cheating and doping even more devestating but it seems you are keeping the faith all the same.

Stats time: these are the posts and the sports women on this blog which you read the most in 2016:

5.  Climbing in Alaska with Ti Conkle  (an old interview but she's great I agree)

4.  Jujitsu brown belt Amanda English on BJJ and MMA and why she loves 'em

3.  Fight, retire, fight again Elaine McElligott on her Muaythai affair

2.  Jorina Barr - learning from the hard times.

1.  Fighting, singing and dancing her way to happiness - Shauna Nicole has big plans! 

Is your favourite post not here? Let me know in the comments ...

Friday, December 9, 2016

Teen muaythai champ Laura Linehan talks motivation and fighting

Laura Linehan muaythai fighter

Laura Linehan is just thirteen but she’s already helping out with teaching the junior class at her muaythai gym in Cork. She’s one of the new breed of Irish muaythai girls, competing at amateur events held in places like Waterford, Dublin and Cork.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Muaythai on the Olympics road!

Wednesdays are usually wordless posts given over just to photographs, but this week is a little bit special.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Get Real Girl dolls on Kickstarter

Dolls via

Every now and then I google this blog to see who else is talking about it. Risky maybe but the last search brought up the Get Real Girl action figures.

Set up by Shona Gupta, she says: 'The dolls I played with during my childhood years didn’t look like me. Of course, they had roles - princess, flight attendant, rockstar - and they always dressed impeccably well.

'Looking back, I wish that there was a doll that would have sparked dreams of adventure and action, dreams that would help me see and feel like my real self. '

I think it's the knees got me - bendable flexible legs for kicking footballs and running. Nice. 

She's on Kickstarter with just over half the funding raised already, you can get involved on Kickstarter at Get real girl action figures  


Friday, November 11, 2016

Funda Diken Turkey on her muaythai path to university

Funda Diken, Turkey - I took this photograph just after she won silver at the muaythai EMF / IFMA European Championships, but you can see from her face that she's more thinking she lost gold.

We spoke later, and she said:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Watch: the beauty of power

Muaythai, BJJ, crossfit, wMMA  - it's all here in this collection of interviews with women training at the ever-expanding Tiger Muaythai Gym in Phuket.

Uploaded and created three years ago by Ryan Jones Films

The Beauty of Power from Ryan Jones on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wordless Wednesday - battle face

Wordless Wednesday  - battle face before Muaythai at IFMA championships

More Wordless Wednesday bloggers here.           And here on Image-in-ing


Monday, October 17, 2016

Doing a guest post on Muay Eireann about women fighers

I'm over at Muay Eireann this week - writing about the four women boxing on Saturday at the Siam Warriors Super Show in Cork.

You can find the post on this link: Four Female fighters

Muay Eireann is a great source for Irish Muaythai: interviews, rankings and updates all done independently of any organisation. And of course the best Muaythai photographs on the island :)

Great media resource! 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Meeting muaythai heroes with Michaela Kelly

Michaela Kelly PIC Muay Eireann

Michaela Kelly (16) fights next weekend on the Siam Warriors Muaythai Supershow in Cork. She talked to me about travelling for fights, her heroes and sharing a fight-card with her uncle.

A few years ago Michaela travelled to England from Dublin to take part in a round-robin tournament. Just a bit of fun, her trainer said, will be good experience, he said.

But none of the other young boxers showed up on the day. Seeing her disappointment another girl offered her services so Michaela could have one fight. That girl was Dakota Ditcheva.

Michaela said: ‘I used to watch videos of girls fighting to learn. Iman Barlow; I love her. And Dakota, when I get tired I put on videos of her fighting, that keeps me going.

‘Then we were over in England, and no-one turned up. She was there, so she jumped in. That was my second fight.’

Laughing, Michaela said she lost the bout but has great memories. Good experience indeed.

Prepping now for her sixth fight against Cork fighter Shauna Nicole, she’s travelled back to England twice more already.

She said: ‘There are hardly any girls fighting here. I’m delighted now about the show in Cork. Shauna looks good, so I’m delighted to have a good fight over here. I’ve fought in Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle  - my trainer organises them.’

Michaela with her Muaythai family
Training at Dublin Thaiboxing, Michaela is also under the watchful eye of her uncle Paddy Douglas who fights for the same gym. And not only at the same gym, he’s also fighting on the Supershow  - a real Muaythai family.

Michaela said: ‘My uncles Paddy and Ray were training first, they used to ask me to go down with them. I loved it when I finally went; I was only there a month when I asked him if I could fight. I was watching people sparring, and I just wanted to join in.

‘I’m the only girl there so I spar with the fellas. It was hard at the start, but now they’re like brothers. It’s like a family. ‘

PIC Muay Eireann
A family with a tough attitude. Her mother Ger aka GD Fitness keeps her diet on the straight on narrow, strictly no pizzas allowed. Michaela does strength and conditioning training before school with her uncle, and sprint-training once a week. She says there’s no slacking off and somehow you just believe her.

‘When I had my first fight, I wasn’t sure how it would go. I was real shy then, when I started fighting it made me more confident. When you’re in ring, your personality changes and you just want to win. It’s not about fancy techniques or moves, I just want to win.

‘Then everyone hugs afterwards.’

Michaela trains at Dublin Thaiboxing  More info on Siam Warriors Supershow.   

Monday, October 10, 2016

Sexualised photos of women in sport - where do you stand?

So this is a turnup for the books - some of the world's best sports photographers at Getty Images getting together with Women's Sport Trust to promote a new way of seeing women in sport.

Curious to know what other women in combat sports think of this? It's not clear yet how much impact this will have as it only launched a few days ago but it's fair to say this blog is super-excited about the prospect.

Combat sports for women are particular battlefield in this area - we love our muscles, we feel great when we're strong but there should be line between feeling good and the pressure to fill Instagram feeds with near-naked sexual poses to get viewers and advertisers.

I'm always hesitant to write about this cause so many of my friends are caught up  in this whirlwind and I don't want to critisize them - my criticism is for a system that makes those pics or videos a MUST instead of a choice.

Getty and WSF rolled this out accompanied by a series of powerful action and emotional sports shots - all taken ringside, poolside and so on. And you know it was actually a shocker to see so many pics of women doing sport instead of posed in their heels showing the results of doing sport.

 I don't think it's wrong somehow to dress up in a sparkly dress, heels or pose in a sexy bikini. I do think it's wrong if you are doing that only because your trainer or promoter or some vague cultural feeling is pressing you to do it against your best instincts.

The more inspiring photographs like this one which cross picture-editors' desks, the more choice they have,  hopefully the more often they will go for these images over the obvious honey-shot.

What do you think? Where do you stand on all of this?


Friday, October 7, 2016

Muaythai or dancing, it's all fun for Shauna Nicole

Shaun post-fight with her Dad and the trainer at Patong gym in Thailand.

Shauna Nicole (16) fights in two weeks on the Siam Warriors Muaythai Supershow in Cork Ireland. She talked to me about fighting in Ireland and Thailand, football and dancing with the Montfort school.

Photos on Shuna’s social media profile jump from satin dance outfits to the sober blue of her soccer team via bottles of Thai oil and lots of Muaythai training photos. This is not someone who takes the lazy approach to life.
She started training at 13 with Cobra Thai in Cork, but things really took off when her dad took her on a long holiday to Thailand about two years ago. Away from school, and in an environment where fighting is as natural as playing a game of football Shauna found herself drawn in.
She said: ‘My dad trains, he loves it. I love travelling so I loved it over there. I was nervous fighting, but I was so much more confident after that. I fell in love with the sport. I was so lucky that my dad could bring me over.’
Even fighters love a bit of pink!
Now she trains regularly, getting up at 6am to run with a friend before school – although she admits to feel grumpy at that hour.
Trying to explain why she loves training so much, she says: ‘It’s a great place to go especially if you’re not feeling 100%. If you just stay at home and go to bed, you wake up the next day and nothing changes. If I’m in a bad mood I want to be with my gym family; that what Cobra feels like for me.’

She lists off all her hobbies including ballet and tap dance, saying: ‘A lot of girls look at Muaythai as a boys’ sport. That is ridiculous. I would disagree, I like to get my hair done and all but training is training. There are more boys than girls, but they don’t treat you any different.’
She would like to fight more often, but the numbers of junior female fighters are still quite low in Ireland. Her second fight was against someone about ten years older even though their experience level was similar.
Shauna said: ‘All my friends were there, I was a nervous wreck, people kept telling me how old she was even though it doesn’t matter. Derek my trainer just kept saying concentrate on your ability,that I put in the hard work and that’s all you can do.’
And the work continues. She said: ‘This will be my biggest fight so far. I feel I’m ready to go now. My nan is watching my diet, checking what I’m eating all the time, she’s great.
‘I’m so grateful to Martin, the promoter and my trainer for arranging this; there are only four girls on the whole show. All my friends, my family, everyone will be there. I can’t wait.’

Shauna trains at Cobra Thai gym in Cork city.  More info on Siam Warriors Supershow.  

She is also part of the Muaythai 4 life suicide awareness film project. 


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016

Watch: Brix and the Bitch

The Artemis Film festival is dedicated to action films starring and about women - so of course I love that ...

This short "Brix and the Bitch" won Best Short Director at the 2016 festival just passed.  The trailer for director Nico Raineau's film says: "Trapped in a seedy and illegal fight club, one woman's only chance for escape is to win a gruesome brawl against the one person she refuses to harm."

The fighting in the trailer is pretty realistic down to the sounds effects - you have been warned!

Brix and the Bitch - Official Trailer from Nico Raineau on Vimeo.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Muaythai nomad; Luna Tobin Peru and elsewhere ...

Luna Tobin fights for a WMC South America 57kgs title this weekend. She spoke to me about training, her links with Ireland and Muaythai life in Peru.

Our paths first crossed at the World Championships in Sweden in May, and then again at the Youth World Championships in Bangkok a few weeks ago. But she had a few more stops in her Muaythai summer. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Boxing, training and being filmed: Bianca Elmir

Australian champion boxer Bianca 'Bam Bam' Elmir, who spoke to me on this blog, took the brave decision to allow a film-crew follow her path towards the World Championships in Astana earlier this year.

This is the latest trailer for that documentary - boxing, being a woman in boxing, being a Muslim woman in boxing ...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Coaches and mothers looking after their fighters

Wordless Wednesday  (some pics I've taken at boxing shows -  women not just in the ring!)

Amateur Muay thai IFMA Russia coach boxer


Monday, September 19, 2016

The Kyokushin Karate champion who just couldn't give up ...

Aneta Meskauskiene karate women in sport

GUEST POST!! Arlette Maotie Bomahou is a martial arts fan and blogger in Dublin - she spoke to Karate champion Aneta Meskauskiene about her addiction to Kyokushin Karate. Aneta is Currently 17th in the Kyokushin World Rankings table 2015 and holder of a 2nd Dan Black belt.:

Meet the amazing 30 year old Lithuanian and now Ireland resident World Champion in Kyokushin Karate, Aneta Meskauskiene, mother of two and wife with a full time job at Accenture.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Irish juniors taking on Muaythai and shining!

Irish Muay thai Bray Juniors kids
PICs via Dublin Junior Muaythai Open FB and (girl) via Sandee Irish Distrubuter FB

Girls have even more to gain from martial arts than boys says the organiser of one of Ireland’s largest junior Muaythai events.

The Dublin Junior Open is in its second year with a date already set for 2017. Along with the Irish Junior Championships in Waterford, it’s one of the few tournaments targeting young boxers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Friday, August 5, 2016

Boxing in a fairy-tale castle

Castle St Tropez Muay thai boxing women in sport Chomanee Thailand

So every now and then I have to sit back and really appreciate how far women's fighting has come. And this moment came via that incredible castle you see above  - where a women's Muaythai title fight took place last night.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Friday, July 29, 2016

Can doping in sport ever be stopped?

Yulia Stepanova Russia doping WADA IOC
Russian whistle-blower and 800m runner Yulia Stepanova

My first reaction to WADA finding such widespread state-sponsored doping in Russia was relief, Relief because the doping habits athletes themselves talk about are now being recognised at a high level.

Then sadness hit;

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Kids in the boxing ring

Wordless Wednesday  - these were taken in Ukraine by the Ukraine Muaythai Federation at the weekend, budding Amateur Muaythai champions!

muay thai amateur kids sports Ukraine boxing Thai boxing


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Blogging siesta

boxing muay thai flowers garland champion thai boxing

I've been very slack on here lately,  too much Muaythai going on off-line (and online too).

I'm still tweeting over @realgirlsport

And digging into the blog archives for the Facebook page realgirlsport

More interviews for the blog being lined-up, and we will be back with a bang very soon! 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Sally Arsenault on why BJJ and cartoons belong together

Sally Arsenault BJJ cartoons MMA mixed martial arts

Funny cartoons about women doing BJJ are few and far between, so when I found a great collection I had to talk to Canadian Sally Arsenault about her inspiration.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: watching from the outside

Wordless Wednesday  - the fighter is in the ring, and everyone is watching ...

muay thai boxing judge referee women in sport martial arts


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

Women of amateur muaythai on their ambitions and passion for fighting

Apologies for the long silence. If you've been following me on Twitter or Facebook, you'll know it's down to Muaythai and the IFMA amateur world championships. No, not out of retirement (by a long shot ever!) but volunteering and getting inspired.

Inspired by the women in this post ... 


Friday, May 20, 2016

Indian women boxers ask if a man can do it, why can't a woman?

"If a man can do it, I can do it. If Mary Kom can do it, I can do it"

Inspirational short on the first all-female fighting club in India, founded by five-time world champion and Olympic medallist Mary Kom.  Produced by Posy Dixon.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Training smarter; Elaine McElligott on MuayThai wisdom

Elaine and her Cork Martial Arts Award

On June 4th Elaine McElligott (Irl) steps into the ring against Krisinta Hopper (UK) She talks about fighting, retiring and now fighting again with a wiser approach to her body.
About a year ago Elaine was retired, months since she’d left MuayThai competition burned out from two intense title bouts.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Watch: the best of Valentina Shevchenko from MuayThai to UFC

Valentina Shevchenko is set for a fight with Holly Holm this summer - and you can imagine many MMA fans going: "huh, who is she?"

This compliation of fights and interviews with the Kyrgyzstani fighter was made by Steven Wright (who made Shin on Shin Europe you saw here last week). 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Vegan MuayThai fighter Claire Baxter explains her philosophy on food

Being a vegan in a combat-sport is so unusual one Australian fighter styles her Facebook page as “Claire the Vegan Baxter”.  

She talked to me about what she eats and how she deals with nutty (!) questions.

Asking people about food can be a sensitive topic, so I was relieved when Claire emailed later to say she enjoyed the project. Phew!

She’s also happy to talk about MuayThai, explaining her dedication: ‘Because I found beauty and integrity in the ring, and it's a hard combination to find.’



  WKBF champion in MuayThai, which came first – sport or ditching the meat?

Sport came first.  In my early 20s I was a professional cyclist. And after I retired I focused on running before coming to fighting. 

Back then I ate plenty of animal products like meat, eggs and dairy believing “animal protein” was important for performance.

I was moved to take the plunge into vegetarianism after reading Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation, I became aware of factory farming and how that worked.

As a 400m track runner then, I was worried I’d be doing myself damage. I wasn't a particularly good one and I would eventually learn the hard way that sprinters are born and not made – but I was ambitious.

I kept watching for signs of diminishing strength and power, for atrophying muscles. It never happened. In fact, a month after become vegetarian, I bench pressed and power-cleaned PBs in the gym. That really confused me! I laugh now when I remember it, but it goes to show how deep beliefs really are.

I didn't even realise I held beliefs about “animal protein” and performance: I thought it was fact.

From Veggie to Vegan

Around 2012 when I’d been fighting for three years, I went vegan for a month to try it out. Four years later, my health seems excellent.

At the time I'd started at a new gym, and my training load was increasing. After a month of veganism, there was no muscle atrophy, no diminished physical capacity – hmmm, familiar story?

The only difference I noticed was that my upper respiratory problems seemed to have cleared up, and I no longer had trouble with my airways when I was running.

For someone who doesn't do any weight-training I seem to be pretty lean and strong for a female of my weight. I guess I discovered by accident much of what we consider to be essential dietary components – meat, eggs, diary – is a myth.

I seem to be able to get enough in grains, legumes, nuts, fruit and vegetables to keep my system functioning at a high enough level to fight professionally.

A slice or two of bread with peanut butter and banana, and a coffee
Pre-mixed salad OR Rice with lentils
Jam sandwich OR a banana shake – 3 bananas, water, chia seeds
A hot, steaming bowl of pasta with tomato and basil sauce

How do other fighters and combat folk react when you break the Vegan news?

PIC Saron Richards via Claire The Vegan Baxter FB
A few faces contort. Maybe a few snorts, the occasional eye-roll. There's a fair bit of humour. If I ever get sick or injured, everyone seems to enjoy telling me that I need to eat more meat.

There's a bit of a post-fight tradition that involves piling into cars and driving to the nearest fast-food place located between the fight venue and home.

If you've ever sat in a McDonald's restaurant late on a Saturday night alongside euphoric fighters with their post-fight, puffy faces and straight left legs, and eaten a garden salad while they demolish multi-storey burgers with bacon, then you'll know what it is like to be the joke.

McDonald's doesn't help much: they serve the most pathetic garden salad I've ever come across: a slice of pale tomato shivering on top of a lettuce leaf.

What’s your come-back?

I suppose I meet humour with humour. With only a limp, garden salad to back my claims, I haven't got much else!

None of it bothers me, I enjoy the laugh. I suppose it can be a bit awkward when I'm with friends or family and someone has done a lot of work preparing a meal for everyone, and then someone else pipes up and says “Oh but she's vegan!”

The hard-working host will frown and fret, and I have to reassure them that it's fine.

How do I explain the benefits? Well, I don't really. Each to their own.

Do you cook a lot?

PIC by Sharon Richards via Claire The Vegan Baxter Facebook 

Unfortunately, I am a bit challenged in the kitchen. I've never had the patience or interest to prepare anything complex. Boiled rice and lentils would probably be my greatest culinary achievement.

I don’t have an imaginative diet, but it seems to do the trick. I never worry about my diet – to be honest, if I had to worry about it, I wouldn't be bothered with it: food is to eat, and thinking about it too much is surely an eating disorder.


Claire landed in Thailand this week for two months of training. You can follow her adventures on Facebook at:  Claire The Vegan Baxter. 

Find more of Sharon Richards fight photography at: Sharon Richards Photographics