Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Kirstie Gannaway did not get into sport until she was 15.
When her brother, Nicholas, a boxing and muay thai enthusiast, asked her to watch him compete, It ignited in her a lifelong passion for martial arts. "We are really close," she said.
"So when I saw my brother doing it, I thought this is my chance to try it," she said. Nicholas, now 26, taught her everything he knew about boxing.
Gannaway, born here to an Australian father and a Singaporean mother, also has a sister, Vivi, 36.
The 23-year-old is the third Singaporean woman to become a professional MMA fighter. She signed with ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) and Evolve Fight Team in July.
"I was never a very physically active kid. I was more interested in design and art," said Gannaway, who is also a freelance graphic designer.
To her eight years of boxing and five years of muay thai experience, she has added three years of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA experience.
In 2011, she met Brazilian MMA fighter Herbert Burns, who asked her to try Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA. He taught her some moves and she ended up hooked on MMA as well as on Burns, who is now her boyfriend.
She said: "I was always eager to compete but never got the opportunity. So when I started MMA, my interest sort of exploded from there," she added.
Gannaway said the sport is as creative as graphic design. "You consistently have to find new ways to deal with the situations in the ring. It is just more physical, that's all," she said with a smile.
When her boyfriend joined Evolve MMA as an instructor late last year, she joined the school as a student. Her ability and skills soon earned her a tryout with the professional Evolve Fight Team.
"It happened almost overnight," she said. She was accepted into the Evolve Fight Team and signed by ONE FC after a five-day tryout.
Now also an assistant instructor at Evolve MMA, she makes her professional debut on Friday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, against another debutant, Adek Omar, from Malaysia.
Competing for the first time in front of a home crowd gives her more confidence, she said. "It is nice to be able to compete in your hometown, as my teammates are here and I live here. I have my routine and my support here. So, in that sense, I have one less thing to worry about."
She knows that her instructors will be pushing her to the limit.
"I just want to perform my best, that's all I want to do," she said.
My boyfriend (MMA fighter Herbert Burns) gave this Samsung Galaxy S4 mini to me. It is light and thin. And it runs on Android, which I find easier to use.
You can put a lot of photos together with this app. I use it for my Instagram or make little collages and send it to my friends.
I like to know when the bus is coming, so I know if I need to sprint to the bus stop. Plus, I usually get lost like crazy. So, this app is really useful.
This app lets you edit and change the icons of any app.
It is so much fun that I can get obsessed with it. I can spend a lot of time just playing with it.
I love Instagram. It is really fun, as it is like a big photo journal and it is easy to share with your friends. And I can find ideas about food and fitness on it too.
This article was first published on Nov 5, 2014.
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