Friday, April 29, 2016

Watch: Shin on Shin Europe

Poking around the films on Vimeo is like going in your jam-packed granny's attic, you never know what you will find.

This doco starts off with the 2005 MuayThai fight between American Angela Rivera (now Angela Parr living in Australia and married to John 'Wayne' Parr) and Dutch star Germaine de Randamie (now fighting in MMA).

But it's far more than just a fight compliation with lines like this: "The sad truth is women who are good (at fighting) and pretty will make more than women who are just good."

Lucia Rijker (Holland) naturally features and Ilonka Elmont as well as Julie Kitchen (UK), Daniela Somers (Belgium), Johanna Rydberg (Sweden), Alena Hola (Czech Republic), Jorina Baars (Holland) and a few more cameos.

Well worth 21 minutes of your Friday. Shin on Shin: Europe was uploaded by Steven Wright.

Shin on Shin Series: Europe EP6 The never ending story (Women's fighting) from Steven Wright on Vimeo.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Amanda English on rolling around with Jiu Jitsu

Amanda demonstrating a triangle choke at a womens only Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class in Kyuzo Gym PIC via FB Kyuzo Gym

Second part of an interview with one of the first women to take up Jiu Jitsu and then MMA in Ireland Amanda English; women using social media to get on the mats.

Amanda is one of the few women here at Brown Belt level in Jiu Jitsu, and having also competed in MMA has seen the popularity of both sports grow since she began training in 2007.

She said: “I’ve been through the changes – you had no changing facilities for women, changing in the cubby-hole while the lads changed in the gym. It’s a lot different now, the MMA gyms have more facilities, it is acknowledged it is a sport for men and women.”

Amanda back in 2011 with the gang at Kyuzo Gym PIC VIA Kyuzo Facebook

Her own long-time home Kyuzo Gym has just launched a mobile app, and Amanda said social media is playing a big part in the growth of women's sports.

She said: “At the Jiu Jitsu level, there is a Facebook group for women training, mainly in Dublin but it has been in different places now, we were in Newry. We’d have Open Mats, it’s to try to encourage women to meet at a weekend and do 2-3 hour training session

“It gives people an opportunity to meet with other women, train with other women, especially if they are in gyms where there are not that many female members.

“It’s snowballing. You notice from one of the first sessions there might have been five or six women, now some of the sessions have 20 to 30 women , particularly on the Jiu Jitsu side.”

She’s also noticed a steady growth in women taking on stand-up styles like MuayThai in preparation for MMA bouts.

So coming from a Jiu Jitsu background, does she have a preference for any one style?

Laughing, she said: “I like to mix it all up. I compete in Jiu Jitsu as well as MMA so  it depends what competitions are coming on, whether I focus my time on that or more on stand-up.

“I do like to mix it up, it’s a nice sport like that. So if you get a bit fed up of rolling all the time, you can punch bags or punch people for extra classes. It’s nice to have that variety.”

Amanda in action on the mats at Kyuzo Gym

Amanda is so into promoting women in combat her coach Barry Oglesby was one of the trainers contacted for a documentary shown on RTE called “Wild Girls”. Amanda took presenter Vogue Williams onto the mats at Kyuzu for a rolling-session.

She said: “I thought it would be good exposure for women in the various different types of combat sports. It was good fun, they came down and were in the gym for a couple of hours. She got well involved, I gave her a Jiu Jitsu suit.

“I think people watching were impressed, the programme got a great reaction because people didn’t realise that there are so many women out there doing such tough sports, and having so much dedication to the sports. It was a very positive reaction.”


Search for "Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for women in Ireland " on Facebook if you want to join the group, it's a closed group so safe discussions for all.

The first interview Amanda did for this blog is here, with links to videos of her fights 

Contact Kyuzo Gym for wrestling, BJJ and MMA training at all levels and ages

Friday, April 22, 2016

Watch Heather Hardy: It's ok to be a fighter, it's ok to be tough

heather hardy womens boxing gleasons gym
PIC via ESPN article on Hardy

I started watching this short, listening out for a quote to use in the post which would draw you in. But the whole script narrated in that wonderful New York accent by boxer Heather 'The Heat' Hardy is something you need to hear.

A mother, a boxer, a survivor of Hurricane Sandy but above all a fighter (WBC international super bantamweight champion) and a super-hero to her little girl.

Take five minutes and three seconds out of your Friday, and be inspired to hit the road, hit the gym and hit those pads.

The Heat from Chris Eversole on Vimeo.

Heather Hardy is on Twitter: @HeatherHardyBox

She fights out of the famous Gleason's Gym , founded 1937 and now home to so many of America's women fighters. Find Gleason's on Facebook.

Gleason's is also home to Malissa Smith who's written the definitive history of women's boxing if you want to know more. Order it on Amazon or through her website Girlboxing.  

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sport is glitz and shadows

Olympic rings Budapest Olympics

Sport, it is glamour, it is excitement, it is power. But it is also doping, corruption and homes bull-dozed to make way for stadiums.

The horrors emerging from Qatar of migrant workers dying and journalists arrested for talking about it. The seemingly never-ending doping scandals in athletics or tennis.

I read an article last night by Jules Boycoff which digs into the shadows behind the glitz of Rio2016.

One section jumped out: “There’s no getting around the fact that billions are being spent on the Olympics at the same time that hospitals are being shuttered and education funding is being slashed.

“With great fanfare Olympic organizers announced $500 million in spending cuts earlier this year. But the Brazilian government recently cut three times that amount from its health and education budgets.”

Is this really what we want to celebrate?

I remember the Beijing Olympics and that incredible Bird’s Next stadium, but how many people were displaced to make that happen? Friends who lived in Beijing at the time said unknown thousands lost their homes, and thousands more had their homes swathed in hoardings to hide the poverty.

Clean air that is such a rarity for Chinese people was guaranteed for the athletes – by closing factories around Beijing for months before the Olympics. Did those workers get paid? Who knows?

This article by Dave Hill looks at London2012 and its legacy for the people in the East End around it. The writer looks at how the stadiums are being used, but cannily when it comes to the real estate points out that land-owners and investors are smiling but not necessarily your average Joe.

Talking to local politicians, he writes:

“Newham’s executive mayor Sir Robin Wales says: “The government has walked away from legacy. We’ve been given some of the biggest cuts in the country, as have Tower Hamlets and Hackney. So that’s masses of money taken out of the East End.””

Olympic rings Budapest Olympics
Add caption

And behind all of this again you have the PlayFair movement – looking at the wages and working conditions of the people making all that expensive athletic gear.
We need to keep an eye on this full picture. We can’t live in a bubble where sport is just this glorious thing unfettered to human reality.
Run, jump, and shout for your favourites but remember what’s going on in the shadows too. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Ula Mydlowska: fight for fun, train like a champion

Crush gym MuayThai dublin

You don’t have to be a champion to train like one, and Polish fighter Ula Mydlowska is determined to make the most of each fight she has.  We were introduced after the last Cage Kings event in her adopted home of Dublin, and finally caught up this week for a proper chat.

Fighting under Fantom Gym and MMA club, and sometimes training at Lionheart Ula jokes she came to Ireland nine years ago for a holiday but never expected her Irish life to turn out like this. 

“When I moved here first I didn’t know where to go for training. I had about a two-year break from martial arts. I did Tae Kwon Do when I was a kid, for about four years from 13 years old. I just went to the gym here a lot.

“I like going to the gym, you try and get in shape, change how you look. It’s about power. But my hobby is fighting – I leave any stresses in my life in the ring,” she said.

So she was one of the first in the door when her friend Pawel Tomczyk opened Fantom.

“Pawel has a passion for training, he always finds time for you. It’s important when you’re training hard that you find someone who is close, sometime you can trust when you are getting ready for competition.”

Crush gym MuayThai dublin

Four fights in, she’s already had to move styles and weight categories to get between the ropes. She prefers K-1 but Ula's most recent fight against Wexford's Eimear Codd was under MuayThai rules. 

She said: “I prefer boxing really, and kicking to go with that.

And again like most women training in fighting sports, her sparring partners are mainly men – a good and bad thing, she says.

“Sometimes you come back from sparring with some big guys, they punch you around like a cloth. Then you feel: ‘ah god, I’m not good’

“But other times maybe it’s five beginner boys, and you can kick their ass a bit. Then you feel super-powerful, that’s a good day,” she said.

Crush gym MuayThai dublin
PIC by Muay Eireann

That said she’s surrounded by a team of male trainers and supporters including Pawel, coach Phil White and her long-suffering flat-mate and fellow fighter Slawek she said.

Crush gym MuayThai dublin

Ula, who works as a personal trainer and instructor is honest about the impact of mixing fighting with a full-time job.

“I’m not looking for a world title, to go somewhere high with all this. I’ve many injuries already. I do this because it’s fun.

“I mean I would wish I could be a world champion, but it would take many years. I’m 31 now, so this is a hobby for me. I have to focus on my clients; you need to be full of energy to come in early in the morning for them, and run classes.”

In the meantime, she’s started boxing classes at her work in Crunch Gym. 

She said: “I’ve organised some classes now, it’s meant for men and women but actually it’s mostly women. Just two men. It’s good for women to see it, they’re really into boxing.

“It’s not about fighting. It’s about fitness, and boxing technique, it’s not about contact. For fighting, you need to feel you really want to, and can manage it. It’s different to what I’m teaching.”

Teaching women how to have fun with boxing, but still focused on fighting for herself, she added:

“I like fighting, I don’t know why. It’s about the adrenaline, you can get to be addicted to that.”


Follow Ula on her Facebook Ula Personal Trainer 

Find Fantom Gym and MMA Club on Facebook

Find Lionheart MuayThai on Facebook. 

All pictures courtesy Ula Mydlowska  

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Re Wikstrom Snow Smiling

Wordless Wednesday  - Photographer Re Wikstrom on Instagram aka "'s Photo Editor/Marketing Photographer. Freelance Fotog for Female Athletes. Outdoor photo storyteller. Campfire Lover. Nerd."

RE Wikstrom snow photography ski
Leah Evans watches over Molly Baker via INSTAGRAM Re Wikstrom

RE Wikstrom snow photography ski
via INSTAGRAM Re Wikstrom

RE Wikstrom snow photography ski women
Sydney Dickinson via INSTAGRAM Re Wikstrom

RE Wikstrom snow photography ski  Kabul Tina Fey Stiletto
via INSTAGRAM Re Wikstrom

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

Monday, April 11, 2016

Irish women's boxing team have a good day at the office

Neriman Istik,Turkey (L) won against Poland’s Sandra Drabik

European qualifiers for boxing in Rio2016 are taking place this weekend in Turkey, and the three Irish women who fought are through to the next round. 

Christina Desmond from Cork had a surprise victory over top seed and world No 3 Dutch fighter Nouchka Fontijan (75kgs/middleweight).  And Ceire Smith defeated Hungary’s Virginia Barankas (51kgs/ flyweight).   

And the big hope of the Irish team Katie Taylor won over Czech  Martina Schmaranzova (60kgs/lightweight)

Nicola Adams UK through to the next round
Britain's Nicola Adams, a gold medallist in London2012 is also through after beating Moldova's Iulia Coroli. 

There are six Olympic places for women out of this tournament with the finals at the end of the week. The women have to make the finals to qualify from this tournament.  

Not a lot of pictures of the women's bouts around yet, but more to come hopefully.

Follow #Samsun2016 on Twitter or Facebook for the latest updates.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Watch: "Ladies should be polite" not boxing

This clip shot by Patrick Winn of the Global Post in 2010 catches interesting comments on the women's boxing scene in Thailand - both MuayThai and western-style boxing. 

He filmed during the run-up to the London Olympics in 2012, but it appears to have been shot before the limited number of weight categories were known. In the end women only competed in three categories 51Kgs, 60kgs and 75kgs which left the Thai women out of the running. 

I'd seen clips from this video before on other blogs but hadn't realised it was a full news-package. When I say "full" of course it leaves out many nuances and scandals but as an introduction it's interesting, and any of you on here who know more about the scene - comment away! 

You might laugh at the women's comments about periods/ menstruation being considered taboo but that is still alive and well. I was a bit surprised recently to even hear from a male Western friend who's involved in running a gym in Thailand women training in that gym must go under the ropes to the ring even during training.

I recognise some of these women from today's MuayThai scene so in spite of everything, they are succeeding. One bout at a time. 

Thailand Women's Boxing from Pailin Wedel on Vimeo.


Details of tomorrow's European Boxing qualifying tournament for Rio2016 in Turkey on

Full results from the London Olympics 2012 women's boxing here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: never too old for competing

Wordless Wednesday: these shots of  Lucy Moore Fox (55 to 59 category) at the GB Indoors Masters Athletics Championship a few weeks ago. 

Thank you Alex Rotas Photography for these pics!

Alex Rotas photography veteran masters older athletes Dublin Irish

Alex Rotas photography veteran masters older athletes Dublin Irish

Alex Rotas photography veteran masters older athletes Dublin Irish

Alex Rotas photography veteran masters older athletes Dublin Irish

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

Monday, April 4, 2016

Going for A-class with MuayThai fighter Eimear Codd

MuayThai fighter Eimear Codd is on a mission, having spent a year fighting just for fun she’s determined to make 2016 more focused. She’s off to a good start, winning on points at Cage Kings in Dublin last week against tough opposition.

When we spoke she was still on a high from that win taking her record to 13 fights (5W 1D 7L), and full of plans for herself and her gym Valhalla in Wexford. 

She said: ‘Last year was for fun, this year is going to be a bit more serious. I lost a lot at first, but it didn’t matter – I was learning, getting experience. I had my first fight in 2014 so I had a lot to learn.

‘And my first Thai-style fight was in April last year, she was so strong in the clinch, it really made me think. It was a great experience, I wasn’t bothered to lose. It was a great experience.’

Like a lot of female fighters, Eimear was first inspired by her brother who was into MMA. He encouraged Eimear and their sister to try classes, starting with kickboxing. She jokes life got in the way for her family but she’s still going.

Those classes led to meeting Tony Walsh, now head coach at Valhalla Gym but two years ago a man dreaming of bringing MuayThai to the south-east. Back then the sport was so unknown Eimear just nodded when friends thought she was doing kick-boxing, there was no point even trying to explain.

“It all started so fast. At my first fight the gym didn’t even have a name.  I fought in Athlone, and two of us won fights without even a name. It felt really good,” she said. 

Eimear Codd w Valhalla team
PIC via MuayEireann

With less than 20 people in Valhalla, the gym feels more like an extended family than a business she said. Even the tragic death of one of the original fighters brought them more closely together, with Eimear still wearing the first club T-shirts he designed.


So why MuayThai and not the camogie Wexford women are more known for?


She said: “What I love about it is you are learning every day, and you see results. Maybe not every day, but over time you see results. I sparred with someone who used to beat lumps out of me in kickboxing classes, just 13 years old or so but really good. I went back and could punch and get a few in, it felt great. I was thinking in my head ‘Ah, I’m learning, I’m learning’.”

And it was the explosive knees and elbows which pulled her from Kickboxing to MuayThai, as she explains:

“I really love knees, there is real power behind the knee. It’s just cool, it feels effortless. I need to work on my hands, but I love knees.

“My aims this year is to go A-class. I love using knees, so I imagine using elbows in a close-style fight would be great".

Eimear Codd (l) vs Ula Mydlowska PIC via MuayEireann
Eimear’s already catching eyes on the Irish fight scene, sponsored by Kingdom MuayThai, and supported by Karl England from Olympus Fitness and ‘Ultimate Nutrition’ in Enniscorthy.

She trains four times a week at Valhalla, and on her own at least twice doing weights and running. Her fight weight is 59/60Kgs at the moment but she's working at being a 58kgs or lower fighter as there are more opportunities at that weight in Ireland.



Eimear remembers watching Thai superstar Saenchai PK Saenchaigym in Cork taking on Dublin fighter Stephen Meleady. She said: “That was just an inspiration to me, watching that level make me want to take fighting more seriously.”

And she looks to American Sylvie von Duuglas Ittu, who is coming up to a record 200 fights in Thailand. She said: “Sylvie is bad-ass. She is breaking records, but just the fact she keeps living out there and fighting. She loves MuayThai, she’s just really cool” 

Eimear is planning a trip to Thailand next year, hoping to save enough from her accountant job with Atlantis Seafood to stay for a month of training. And fight of course.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Where do you go for news of women's sport?

Mary Kom womens boxing India
Mary Kom 5-time World Champion, Olympic Bronze medallist
I had an interview post prepared for today, but there is so much going on in terms of pay that I think for once it's time to vent some frustration. 

First it was tennis taking a turn on the discrimation plinth, then this week the American football (soccer to some of you!) team say they're going to court for fair wages. A review of a book on women in sport I read yesterday said the book looks at how online stats are showing stories on women's sports are not read on newspaper sites as much as campaigners would like. 

I haven't read this book yet, but according to the review Sarah Shepherd's book 'Kicking Off' : 

"... discusses the thorny chicken-and-egg question of media coverage with some heavy hitters, like the Mail on Sunday’s Alison Kervin, the first female sports editor in Fleet Street.

"Several point out that the ability to accurately measure media traffic nowadays offers some indigestible facts for campaigners for change." 

Sounds like that particular chapter is going to be a bit indigestible for fans of women's sport! I was thinking about why this might be so. 

Based on the way I learn about women's sport, it could well be that women just don't bother even trying mainstream media for news anymore. I would go to Twitter to see what's happening in most things, the only one I would check on a newspaper website is the GAA sports - camogie or football. 

Sheila Champion, Ireland, 75, women's javelin 75–79 year old age group, European Masters Games, Lignano, Italy, 2011. ©Alex Rotas

Scratching around in my head trying to think of the last time I learned something about women's fighting for example from an actual media site. It's mostly blogs, Twitter and Facebook - because that's where women in sport hang out. 

In Ireland at least there have been some positive changes in the last 12 months, including a weekly women in sport spread in the Irish Times. 

Maybe I'm trying too hard to find a reason, but I think there's more to this than meets the eye. 

Where do you go for news of women's sport?