How I came to fight Muay Thai by Lilian Dikmans for #projectme

06 Jul How I came to fight Muay Thai by Lilian Dikmans for #projectme

Photo by W.L Fight Photography.

When I walked into a boxing and Muay Thai gym about 4 years ago, I was there to try the fitness classes. I never thought I’d end up in the ring, let alone fighting at a professional level.


I chose the gym because it was close to my house and I was looking to shake up my fitness routine after doing CrossFit for a couple of years. The fitness classes gave me a taste for punching and kicking things and I was hooked straight away. I needed an outlet for my anxiety and general daily frustrations and this did the trick.


The gym also trained professional boxing and Muay Thai fighters, and I would see them at the back of the gym (via the mirrors) while I was doing the fitness classes. I would watch them hitting the pads and sparring each other and decided that I wanted to try that.

Photo by W.L Fight Photography.

So I signed up to do the gym’s graded classes that allowed you to progress from beginner to intermediate, advanced and eventually to fight level. I trained consistently (4 – 5 nights a week) and worked my way though the levels. I started with partner drills in class, where we would start to work combinations on each other in a controlled way. Then I started sparring.


The first time I sparred, it was pretty embarrassing. I forgot everything I’d learnt and spent the whole round fighting the urge to cover my head with my arms and turn my back on my partner (which is not a good idea!). But I kept at it, and eventually my confidence grew as I stopped flinching and realised that I could actually take hits and fight back.


Respect for your fellow students, sparring partners and opponents is essential. I was lucky that I only ever experienced one dodgy sparring partner (who was a big guy with at least 20kg on me who either couldn’t control his punches or had some sort of issue sparring a girl). I’ve learnt so much from all the guys and girls I’ve sparred. I think it’s the best way to learn when it’s done in a controlled environment.

Photo by W.L Fight Photography.


After sparring at my gym, I entered a few interclub sparring competitions which gave me a taste of what it’s like to fight in a ring in front of a bunch of people. Then I took the plunge and was matched for an amateur fight. Although you wear helmets, shin guards and 16oz gloves for amateur fights, you still have to have blood tests and get a doctor to sign off that you’re fit to fight, so it felt like a pretty big step.


I won my amateur fight (and also learnt so much in the process). Afterwards, my trainer was confident that I was ready to step it up, so I was matched for my first professional fight earlier this year. With professional fights, you don’t wear any headgear or shin guards – just a mouthguard and pretty light 8oz gloves. Obviously this increases the risk of injury, but you wouldn’t jump into a pro fight until your trainer (and you) are confident that you have the necessary skill to protect yourself. I was (very) nervous, but also excited to push myself and see what I was capable of.


I won my first pro fight and went on to also win my second one. They weren’t easy wins by any means and for me it’s really not about winning. I just want to fight well. I would rather fight well and lose than fight poorly and win.


I’ve learnt so much about myself from the start of my training to now. Muay Thai has taught me so many things. Resilience and letting go of your ego are two big ones. Life lessons that I don’t think I would’ve been able to fully explore had I not walked into that gym 4 years ago.

Photo by W.L Fight Photography.



By Lilian Dikmans




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