In the local ranks of New York, one such up-and-coming fighter is making a heavy name for herself–even though nearly everything about her goes against what is expected of women. Despite being petite, soft-spoken, and competing at 105 lbs (nearly 90 pounds less than the international representative of fighting, Muhammad Ali), Muay Thai fighter Raquel Harris carries the nickname of the most famous fictitious fighter of all time–”Rocky”. While Harris is ten inches shorter than the “Italian Stallion”, her heart is evident in every fight she has competed in.
As the timers blare and the sounds of gloves hitting pads slam in the background, Pina looks at home sitting next to a heavy punching bag as he drapes himself on the edge of a boxing ring at Ardon’s. Tall and dressed in black, from far away he could appear menacing. As one gets closer to him, the small smile lines around his face become more apparent and it’s clear that he is relaxed in this space. He says it’s because he’s “completely obsessed and engulfed by this sport.” It’d be a hard reach to find anyone who loves Muay Thai and training more than John Pina.
“I love what it I do,” Jimenez says with a laugh. “I love my work and I love training. Muay Thai was my first sport–I never played sports as a kid. I didn’t have time for it or the money. But I grew up watching boxing and always wanted to do it. I didn’t hear about Muay Thai until my twenties and I fell into it because I had my own time, my own car, and wanted to be productive outside of the lab. I fell in love with the sport and fighting came naturally to me. I feel like I’m always thinking, always analyzing–from one lab to the next. Here I am now, seven years later, still not expecting everything that continues to come my way.”
Sylvie is an American Muay Thai journalist who at this time of publishing, recently won her 171st fight in Thailand. She originally moved to the country with the intent of training for a year and accumulating about 50 bouts. Several years later, she is still training, writing, and focusing on obtaining 200 fights.
Melissa Ray has by no means lived a conventional life. A Muay Thai fighter that has traveled the world, fought on televised bouts, and now currently resides in Thailand, it's safe to assume that she follows her gut and knows what's best for herself.