CityLife Cover STORY
Pretty Muay Thai
Words by Stacey Carrick
Photos by Gregg Maxwell
Meet Amy Glennon. On one hand she is a loving wife, salsa dancer, cat mum and makeup enthusiast. On the other hand, she is a fierce fighting machine.
It’s hard to believe this petite brunette is a strong, powerful fighter.
Well you’d better believe it, because this Cairns local is a World Champion in Muay Thai.
Amy recently returned from Turkey after competing in the ISKA (International Sport Kickboxing Association) World Championships, proudly scoring a gold medal for the Australian team.
She competed in the 55kg female Muay Thai division against Morocco, ending the fight in just 45 seconds with killer knees to the sternum.
Amy started training with Pretty Muay Thai head coach Paul Hosking just a few years ago. In this time she has fought nine times with an impressive record of seven wins.
She won the ISKA Queensland title on her eighth fight in July and was then invited to be on the Australian team.
Amy won the World Championship in a TKO (Technical Knockout).
I got my left knee up her sternum a few times, she spat her mouthguard out, they put an eight count on her,” she said.
“In the exact moment, I was a bit shocked because I wasn’t expecting it to be over that fast.
“It would have been exciting to go three rounds, to put on a show and to really showcase what I can do, but at the same time, an early finish, nothing wrong with that – I got in there and got it done.”
Twenty-seven countries competed in the World Championships, with just seven fighters from Australia, while Germany boasted a whopping 250 competitors.
Australia returned with a phenomenal nine gold medals, which is the best result the Australian team has ever achieved.
“We’ve never had a clean sweep like that before, with every competitor winning their division,” Amy said.
“I felt really accomplished when I became world champion – that’s what I went there to do. I got the result that I knew I would get, that I believed I would get. I put so much work into it and I nailed it.
“I always walk into fights with 100 percent certainty that I am going to be successful.
“You need to walk in with so much confidence in yourself and your ability to win, that in your mind you have already won.”
Mindset and visualisation are a very important component of Amy’s Muay Thai success.
“We work with Richard Hart, he’s called ‘The English Hypnotist’ and he’s a former Muay Thai champion.
“We do a lot of processes to visualise the fight.
“By the time I step into the ring, in my mind I’ve already won.
“If you believe you can, you can. Be your own biggest fan, your own biggest supporter.
“All my motivation comes from my own grit and stubbornness that I am going to achieve what I want. Mindset is everything.
“I have a fight day recording— the morning of the fight when I wake up, I’ll listen to the process where I walk through all three rounds, I visualise exactly what I want to do.
“The number of times it comes true is almost eerie.
“If you convince yourself that this is what’s going to happen, this is what you’re going to achieve, it’s crazy what you can do.
“Right before I get to the fight show I’ll do a recording where we unleash ‘Amy the Fighter’. That’s when I get in the mental state where I get ready to be violent in a very intentional way. Richard calls it ‘beautiful violence’.
“He also changes the way you talk to yourself. Conversations you have with yourself are more positive.
“That extends so far beyond Muay Thai. I think my mental health as a whole is a lot healthier than it ever was before I did Muay Thai.
“Muay Thai has really improved my mental health, my confidence and my stress management.”
So what does Amy love about Muay Thai and boxing?
“I love the physicality of it,” she said.
“It’s a beautiful sport, even though there’s so much brutality in it.
“Especially Muay Thai, which is steeped in rich history and culture from Thailand.
“To see these fighters put on these amazing displays, then get in the ring and perform as brutally as they do, is a really cool juxtaposition for me.
“Before you even get in the ring, you honour your God, your parents and your coach, which is all based on Buddhism.
“Once the fighters are both in the ring, you seal the ring. Traditionally, you are sealing just the two of you in there, metaphorically locking yourselves in the ring to battle.”
Muay Thai fighters wear Mongkhons during the Wai kru ram muay, the ritual performed before battle.
Mongkhons are a traditional headdress bestowed on fighters by their coach, which are then worn in their coach’s honour.
Mongkhons can then be personalised by the fighter; for example, Amy’s features Autumn leaves as she loves Halloween, as well as charms that hold personal significance to her.
Amy, who is originally from Boston, visited Cairns for a holiday and never left. She has been a manager at The Pier Bar for around 10 years and became interested in the sport as a means of self-defence.
“I asked one of the security guards if he could teach me some self-defence,” she said.
“I felt working late nights, it would be a good idea to know how to defend myself.”
She then began training with Paul, a Muay Thai specialist, and that’s where her World Championship journey began.
Pretty Muay Thai, which opened in December last year, hit a significant milestone recently – they now have as many female members as males.
“Combat sport is usually associated with predominantly males, so we’re really proud of the fact that the gym is now 50/50,” Amy said.
“Muay Thai is traditionally a young man’s game because it’s very physically demanding, it’s hard on the body.
“Myself, Paul and Jessie Geyl have all proven that it’s very achievable to continue to have success well into your thirties.”
Pretty Muay Thai was named after Paul – his fight name was ‘Pretty Paul’, named after his ‘pretty’ technique.
“It’s the perfect name for the gym because we put a big focus on technique and it being a ‘pretty’ fight and not just bashing each other,” Amy said.
Muay Thai became all-encompassing for Amy, a healthy addiction that changed her lifestyle in a positive way.
“I love the way that it’s changed me as a person,” she said.
“You can’t really perform to the level that we perform if you’re out drinking, if you’re eating bad food, if you’re staying up super late. You need to have a healthy lifestyle to perform at this level.
“I wanted to be amazing at it. I fell in love with it and I wanted to do well – that’s been the driving factor in making all these lifestyle changes.
“When I’m competing, it’s all weight based, so that’s definitely changed the way I fuel myself.
“I have cleaned my diet up massively since I started fighting.
“I was never really big, but I was too big for my frame to be competing as an athlete.
“I lost 17 kilos in five months so I could compete in the 55kg division.
“When I’m dropping weight during Fight Camp I do a lot of hill sprints – I usually do the Red Arrow 10 times in a row.
“You do get really amazed at your body and what it’s capable of.”
Amy has only suffered one major injury during her fight career.
“I’ve been cut once,” she said. “I got my eyebrow split by an opponent’s elbow. Apart from that, mainly just bruises.
“When you’re preparing for a fight and your teammates are bashing you, they’re putting you through the ropes.
“These are people who care about you and have your best interests at heart.
“Because when you get in that ring, the person across from you has been trained to take your head off.
“And that’s what they’re going to try to do. And if you’re not ready for it, you’re in danger.
“Some guys I spar with are much bigger than me, so I go into fights knowing that I’ve faced better and I’ve beaten better than them.
“My fight name is Tekken, which is a video game.
“That’s what Paul calls me. When he shouts instructions he said it’s like playing a video game – he’ll yell out jab, cross, leg kick, and that’s exactly what I’ll do.
“I always do exactly what he says – I have 100 percent trust in him.”
Many people are definitely surprised when they learn Amy’s a fighter.
“A lot of people look me up and down,” she said.
“Some people have this misconception that fighters are big and burly.
“On the surface, I’m someone who likes makeup and nice clothes.
“I probably don’t present as someone who leaves work and fights nearly every day.”
Amy does squeeze in time for other hobbies amongst her strenuous training schedule.
“I’m also a salsa dancer – I’ve been involved with Latin dancing for quite a few years through Sabor Dance Company,” she said.
“That actually translates nicely over to Muay Thai in terms of footwork, balance and spotting turns.
“I also love scuba diving and I’m passionate about reef preservation.”
In fact, Amy met her husband Jack when he was her dive instructor.
“Jack’s been very supportive,” she said. “But he definitely doesn’t love watching me fight.
“I think it’s hard for him to be in the audience and watching it unfold without having any control over it.
“When I split my eyebrow, I had blood pouring down my face, I said ‘please text Jack and tell him I’m going to be OK’.”
With a World Championship under her belt, there is no doubt she is going to be more than OK – the sky’s the limit for this petite fighter who fell in love with Cairns.