SI Model Mia Kang victorious in Muay Thai debut, breaks stereotypes


Girl Power: Mia Kang the first model to fight in the ring.

Sports Illustrated model Mia Kang has really done it. The 28-year-old made her muaythai debut on May 7 in Thailand. Partaking in the “Muay Thai Fight Club” event at the Samui International Stadium, Kang went up against the representative of the country-host Nong B.

The world changed for the Hong Kong born model in the first round, when she got hit by an elbow, making her “mad”. However in the following two rounds the picture of the fight has altered again. The heavy hands earned Kang a TKO victory in Round 3. As a result she became the first model to partake in a real muaythai bout. Post-fight she said she wanted to do it again.

On Monday she explained in details what was behind those words. She appeared at The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani.

Talking the “money shot” with her hand raised, Kang said that when seeing that photo she “can’t wait to do it again”. When asked if that was the greatest feeling in the world, she gave indeed an honest answer. She believes she can do better.

“I am not going to lie. At that time, at that exact time I felt nothing. I didn’t feel happiness, joy. I didn’t feel that. It was more like a confusion.”

The Difference

Mia Kang has likely experienced the difference between playing the fight in your head before it actually happens, what you think you would do in the ring… and what actually happens when it happens.

“The closest thing I can describe a fight like – is a dream. You are not quite sure what’s happening. You are not fully [there], it’s kind of here and there. When I think back to the fight, I can’t tell you exactly what happened.”

Furthermore, Kang now has a deep understanding of what it actually is to be inside the ring. This includes the controlling aspect of your own emotions as well as your opponent’s. It comes with the experience.

“It was my first fight, it’s a lot of emotion. And it is very easy, and I used to do that, to sit on the side and judge a fight. Very easy to say ‘he should have done [this], he should have thrown more of those [hits].”

“At the time [of the fight], you are not thinking. You are reacting.”

“It’s so easy to judge. I’ve learned it now and I will never do that.”

“But I was emotional. Dealing with so many emotions throughout the fight, I know that I did not perform to my ability.”

Showing the School

There is an old saying coming from the trainers out of a former Soviet Union: ‘Show the school’. This means that when fighting, an athlete should demonstrate what he has learned at training. He indeed represents his trainer, the gym. The school which generally has its own style and secrets.

When asked if she was disappointed Mia Kang said “yes”. “I was disappointed with myself”.

However, she definitely understands what needs to be done. More training and more fights which is an experience. Moreover she feels the importance of doing actual Muay Thai when fighting, other than just brawling to claim the win.

Talking the first time fighters Kang said that “most of the time they don’t do muaythai”. “Most of the time they don’t even do kicks. Just attack another person.”

“It’s [the fight] so emotional. Totally understandable.”

“All I was telling myself before the fight ‘doesn’t matter if you win or lose, just do muaythai. I threw kicks I threw elbows, knees, I was blocking.”

“I did do some muaythai. But I did not do anywhere near of what I can do.”

“And I felt disappointment. And weirdly enough when my hand was raised I felt like I’ve achieved nothing.”

Self-criticism is arguably one of the best character traits when it comes to achieving something. Instead of priding yourself of ‘how-great-you-are’, you look back at your mistakes. You make analysis and work harder to improve your performance in the near future. Successful and educated Mia Kang is a perfect example.

“I want to do it again, I want to redo it. I can’t wait till I get to the point when you get to fight with a completely clear head.”

Girl Power

In conclusion Kang said that “today it’s hard to be a woman”. “The pressure that we are under, from whatever angels, from men, from the media from society. It’s tough to be a woman.”

“We do need strong role models out there. I hope people can find something that they can relate to in what I do.”

During The MMA Hour Mia Kang and Ariel Helwani discussed numerous things. This includes Kang’s aspiration to partake in MMA bout, making her debut in the US. Her training with Saenchai that she has also spoke at the FightBox Podcast with Don Roid ahead of the fight. And of course her modelling career and more.