Friday, November 24, 2017

Lucy Payne takes us behind the scenes at Muaythai Angels

The second round of Muaythai Angels took place last weekend, and Lucy Payne was flying the flag for  Great Britain.

For anyone who doesn't know Muaythai Angels (MTA) is a Thailand-based promotion focused on women's fights. This is the second time they've run this series, with a big money pay-out for the fighter who wins over a series of events. The first bout for 2017 took place in April.

MTA focus on the female round-robin although there are male bouts on the card as well. Their approach to promoting female fighters has generated some controversy - and you can maybe see why when you look at the posters above and at the end of this post.

Lucy fought Greek athlete Fani Peloumpi in April, winning her way through to last weekend's bout. And here she faced Thai superstar Chommanee Sor Taehiran. We chatted online about her preparation for this. 

Lucy in her first bout against Fani Peloumpi PIC @princess.of.payne Instagram
I asked Lucy if she prepared differently for this opponent compared to training to fight another Western-style boxer. She said: 'Chommanee is a very experienced opponent, with over 90 fights. She has a beautiful style and is very clever. She is also very strong and has an incredible left kick.

'My coach - Nathan Epps - trained me with a very specific game plan for this. He knew  giving Chommannee space, would allow her to kick and move off, and would also make me a standing target. Instead he trained me on being an aggressive, pressure style using plenty of boxing, knees and elbows and not giving her room for set-ups.'

The bout was as tough as that sounds, with heavy pressure from both. Unfortunately in the end Chommanee took a points win leaving Lucy frustrated but determined for the next bout.

Determind and appreciative of everyone around her, she said: 'There’s always many people to thank after a fight. The list goes on and on! The man that deserves the most thanks though is my coach Nathan Epps. I’m definitely not the easiest person to train at times, and he puts up with me day after day with 100% effort. I’m extremely grateful.'

And if you're a promoter or fighter in the  category in the UK, Lucy is busy making plans  for next year.  She doesn't have any fights arranged yet, but is on the lookout. She said: 'I am now back living in England - I’m looking to re-establish myself in the UK scene. I’m hoping to have an active year for 2018.'

Lucy before her second fight last weekend PIC @princess.of.payne Instagram
We also chatted a little about how Muaythai Angels presents female fighters. It's a touchy subject, as fighters obviously don't want to bite the hand that feeds them but you're still allowed have opinions. 

Lucy said: 'So the whole of the tournament is based on having 16 of the world's most beautiful girls. As flattering as this is, I felt that the tournament should be about our skills and dedication to the sport as female athletes. 

'All of the angels had both hair and makeup artists work on them before the fight which in my mind is ridiculous. Never before have I worn make up for a fight. Myself and a few of the other girls removed it backstage before the fights. I feel the make up makes us look less serious about the fight and unprofessional. It’s sexist.' 

But she stressed how fun the experience was overall, saying: 'All this being said, once the fights were happening I enjoyed every moment of the experience. They're doing a great job promoting women fighters from all over the world and bringing them together to experience and fight in Thailand.'

It's a tough call really. There are more promotions putting women on the cards now, not so many round-robin high-money promotions but ordinary fights becoming more common. So this should reduce the need to focus on appearence but maybe that is naive of me? Should we take every bit of promotion we can get?

It's not like other professional promotions don't like women to look good - thinking about weigh-ins in bikinis and so on, but there is an extra emphasis for MTA which I'm never sure I like or not. I do like that the fights are real, and once you're across the ropes it's full-on muaythai.

The other point Lucy raised is the risks involved in signing onto multi-event promotions. Originally MTA planned this second round for May, but for various reasons (in other words I don't know why) it got moved to November. This meant fighters being unable to sign up to other promotions until the date was set, and Swedish fighter Sofia Olofsson missed out as she was booked to compete on the 25th there.

So, welcome to the professional fight world - exciting, glamorous but also very complex.

Follow Lucy Payne's muaythai adventures on Instagram @princess.of.payne 

Learn more about Muaythai Angels on MTA Facebook  


Irish fighter Kelly Creegan took part in the last MTA, and she blogged about her muaythai angels experience here. 

I've posted about MuaythaiAngels a few other times on this blog:

Muaythai Angels - a step forward or backward? 

Muaythai Angels - the debate goes on

Do you wear makeup doing sport?


No comments