Friday, January 15, 2016

Amanda English on the growth of women's MMA in Ireland and staying cool in the cage

Pics left and bottom right Cage Warriors 63 PIC via DamadeferroMMA

Ireland is pretty small which can be a great thing. Amanda English is well-known on the Irish MMA scene, but I only got the chance to interview her when I bumped into a mutual friend over Christmas and suddenly the contact exchange was easy. 

Amanda was one of the first female MMA fighters in Ireland, starting training at Kyuzo Gym in 2007. Back then MMA was so off-radar, she directed people to YouTube before they understood where her bruises came from.

She said: ‘I think people thought I was making it up or they thought there was something wrong (at home). 

"When I tried to talk to people, the reaction was ‘what the hell?’ They didn’t appreciate the skill, and that it’s addictive. I find it addictive, and there're great health benefits.’

Amanda starting training just for fitness. The urge to fight developed when her competitive instinct took over as she improved. But her journey to a pro-fight and win on  Cage Warriors 63 involved quite a few frustrations.
Amada English vs Slavka Vitaly Italy/Slovakia Cage Warriors 63 PIC via Awakening Fighters

The 56kgs fighter (125lbs) explained:  

“I was training constantly and looking for fights, but they weren’t around at the time. Now it’s kind of exploding for MMA, and women like Ronda Rousey are flying the flag for women’s MMA. There are an awful lot more female fights on the cards, but at the time I found it difficult to get opponents.

“I fought six or seven times but I actually trained for way more fights than that, between injuries or girls pulling out – and they couldn’t be replaced.”

Unlike Irish fighters Aisling Daly or Catherine Costigan who work in MMA-related areas, Amanda is a forensic scientist, so training has to fit around regular working hours:
  • Eight weeks fight-training
  • Six days a week
  • Training once a day at least, preferably twice
  • Night-time training being BJJ, MMA or Boxing;  sparring and technique in each
  • Lunch-times mean running
  • Early mornings for strength and conditioning sessions at the gym

Amanda wins against Adrianna Gibadulinova (Poland) amateur fight PIC via Kyuzo Gym

With her years of experience, Amanda’s become a mentor to the growing number of women at her gym. A brown belt in BJJ (one of the few women in Ireland at this level) she even tutored TV presenter Vogue Williams on the subtleties of BJJ for her programme “Wild Girls”  

She said: ‘I would have been the only woman at Kyuzo for a long while. Now we have a great number of girls coming through, more so on the BJJ side but some doing MMA as well. It’s definitely become a lot more popular, our gym has a nice culture.

“It’s very friendly, open to all new members whether they are male or female.”
And even after all she’s achieved so far, Amanda can still recall the emotions from her very first fight:
“It is very different from training, no matter how hard you train I think there is a mental aspect to fighting. You realise when you get in, and you’re standing there; you do question ‘Oh God, have I got the bottle for this?’ and it’s a matter of maintaining a little bit of cool and saying Yes, I have.”


You can hear Amanda talk about her pro debut on SevereMMA 

Contact Kyuzo Gym here.  

UPDATE: 2nd part of this interview on Jiu Jitsu and social media 

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