Heather “The Heat” Hardy is a woman who hardly needs any introduction. With a professional boxing record of 18-0, her last fight was the first women’s televised bout on NBCSN. One of the most well-known athletes in NYC, Hardy is based out of the famous Gleason’s Gym in Dumbo, Brooklyn. A plethora of articles have been written about her, either demonstrating her dedication to the art of boxing, highlighting her heart and determination as an incredibly busy single parent, or illustrating her work regarding women’s rights. A 2014 documentary directed by Natasha Verma titled “Hardy” detailed The Heat’s life and struggles, encapsulating the concept that being a fighter is hard, but Hardy is damn good at it. If there’s one woman in New York who can do anything, it’s Heather. And “anything” includes Mixed Martial Arts.
“My goal isn’t to win my next fight. My goal is to be the best in the world. The fights are the steps that I need to take to accomplish that.”
To an outsider, the tall, fit, lean, blonde-haired and blue-eyed beauty must have it all. However, Aveen has had a journey that was anything but simple.“I suffered severely from depression and alcoholism,” she states, almost as if saying she had the flu or broke her leg. Grace’s infectious and bubbly personality shines through even as she reflects on her darkest times. The athlete moved to New York City from Ireland five years ago and in her early months of adjusting to America, she made sure to party hard and to party often.
“I didn’t even cut weight for my last fight,” Naomi Cookson says, as she sits cross-legged in the cage where we are conducting our interview. The sounds of coaches yelling and pads being hit on the floor below almost drown out her voice. “Training Muay Thai was supposed to be fun for me, but the whole weight and weight-cutting thing just made it miserable. It was either quit training or just not cut weight. I chose what would make me happier.”
Victor Canales, or “The Butcher“, as he’s affectionately called due to a series of eyebrow-cutting incidents, has only been fighting for the last year. He’s been at Renzo Gracie Academy for the last six or so years, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that he began training Muay Thai.