Perth fighter April Okely living muaythai life
April Okely with her trainer Mark Selden

Muaythai substantive in everyday life of many

Alongside professional fighting, Muaythai has indeed become an enjoyable workout for quite some time now. Not only men but also women travel to Thailand to learn the Art of Eight Limbs. As well, outside the Kingdom, its national sport features on the training schedule of the Westerners.

Furthermore, competing inside the boxing ring is also certainly popular among women. This includes the Girl Power series on European television as well as the World Muaythai Angels eliminator in Thailand.

“I find that women have the fire inside, that they might not even realize they have,” a former 11-time world champion Nathan “Carnage” Corbett recently published in his article dedicated to female muaythai training. Those who do, are perhaps alike the Sports Illustrated model Mia Kang who said in exclusive: “I’m a model. I’m fighting because I want to, not because I have to.”

April Okely grew a love of Muaythai

The 22-year-old Australian April Okely tops up the list of muaythai devotees. Perth-born, the occupational therapy student at Curtin University didn’t really have a plan of becoming a muaythai fighter.

“I was just going to my local gym every day to stay fit during the netball off season. Someone suggested I try out strength and conditioning classes,” says Okely. “This eventually led to partaking in the beginner’s muaythai class every night. I quickly grew a love of the sport.”

Trained at Seldys Gym in Morley, WA under the patronage of Mark Selden, Okely reminisces telling her coach that she would never step inside the ring. Nevertheless, to date she is a 1-1 competitor with the third contest scheduled this Sunday.

“I told Seldy [Selden] from day one I was never going to fight. But it didn’t take him very long to change my mind.”

Mark Seldon is also the Team Australia national coach. This August he brings the squad of juniors to partake in the IFMA World Championships in Thailand. Okely talks her coach saying he knows her well and has been there “through absolute thick and thin.”

“My training partners are also people I consider my best friends. It’s definitely more of a family, and supporting each other through tough fight campaigns. Training sessions definitely consolidates that.”

Okely aspires to make history for herself. She says her target in sport is “to just be able to look back on progress”.

“To know that I’ve done absolutely everything I could possibly do. Pushed myself as far as I can go in order to achieve the best results possible.”

“I have no idea where this sport will take me. But I know as long as I am giving it hundred per cent all the time, then I’m not denying myself any opportunities to take it far.”

A post shared by April Okely (@aprilsveryownxo) on

Brutality & Beauty

There is criticism in regards to “brutality” in the fighting sports. Moreover, concerning the bouts with juniors and the female participants. When asked about the potential aftermath, facial and other injuries that such sport can deliver, Okely says that “as for getting a broken nose or a cut face, it is something that I’m wary of.”

“However it’s just one of those risks that you accept as part of the sport. I don’t let that fear hold me back in a fight.”

Last December, Muaythai Angel out of Australia, Yolanda Schmidt posted that “it is perhaps difficult for most to associate the word beauty with a sport that is seen as brutal”. She however outlined that “beauty is happiness and an individual preference”.

Okely says that she definitely has the “boy-ish traits”. But at the same time she says she is “a bit of a princess”.

“I’d say I’m probably more of a tomboy. But I love doing my makeup, dressing up and looking nice as often as I can.”

A post shared by April Okely (@aprilsveryownxo) on

In five words Okely outlines Muaythai with respect, skills, strength, courage and growth

“I’ve been through some hard times over the last few years and without muaythai I have absolutely no idea where I would be. It has reshaped my mental and emotional durability to be so much stronger, as well as physical fitness of course. It’s really hard to put into words how much I feel I get from it.”

Talking the ultimate goal, Okely says that “life is purely to be happy”. Dedicated and aspiring a successful career, she looks forward to “a family, maybe a couple of dogs, and to be able to make a perfect lasagna.”

In conclusion, April Okely is the following character representing the power and the beauty of the Art of Eight Limbs. This arguably proves again the “Muaythai for All” concept.

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Parviz Iskenderov
Parviz Iskenderov is a muaythai fighter from Perth, Australia. He is a former national champion of Belarus, and also a finalist of IFMA European Cup. He is an editor and journalist at FIGHTMAG. He covers national and world news. Iskenderov is also the WKN (World Kickboxing Network) international coordinator for Australia.

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