Argentinian contender Laura “La Gladiadora” Balin hopes to make a huge impact in her ONE Championship debut.
On Saturday, 23 June, she will step into enemy territory, with a chance to capture world title gold in her first promotional appearance.
The 38-year-old will challenge China’s “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan for the ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, which takes place at the Studio City Event Center in Macau, China.
Balin, who has faced some stiff competition in South America, has emerged with one of the most impressive records on the continent. Now, she is ready to bring her skills across the globe and test herself against the first-ever Chinese mixed martial arts world champion.
With event night looming, get to know a little bit more about “La Gladiadora.”
A Late Starter
Balin was not attracted to martial arts when she was growing up in Entre Rios, Argentina. In fact, she rarely participated in any athletics during her adolescence.
She was more concerned about her career as a kindergarten teacher. Later, she focused on being a good mother to her two sons, who are now aged 18 and 14.
It was a simple kind of life, and one she adored.
However, things changed when her husband, Guillermo, convinced her to give kickboxing a try. He was deeply involved in martial arts, and offered to be her trainer.
It did not take long for Balin to fall in love with the striking discipline, and she soon decided to leave her teaching career behind for a new adventure in combat sports.
“I started practicing kickboxing in 2008 or 2009. I made my debut when I was 30 years old in that discipline, and in 2011, I began competing in mixed martial arts,” she explains.
“I did have to make some changes in my life because I was a teacher. I taught at a school, and I had to leave that job to commit to this as long as possible.”
Balin acknowledges she got a late start in mixed martial arts, but her dedication to the craft eventually turned her into one of South America’s most successful female competitors.
A Family Affair
Ever since launching her combat sports career, “La Gladiadora” has had a built-in support system.
Balin’s husband and children are a constant source of motivation. They have continued to fuel the Argentinian strawweight’s dream, and aid her in any way possible.
“Guillermo and my two kids have supported me right from the beginning,” Balin says.
“The three of them have dedicated themselves to helping me with the chores around the house, and with school.
“Guillermo was the one who encouraged me and gave me strength to go on. He trains with me, corrects me, helps me, and he sets up my physical training and planning. He is in charge of all of that. The three of them have always been my biggest supporters.”
While her husband acts as her head coach, Balin’s teenage boys train with “La Gladiadora” and prepare her for battle, truly making her training camps a family affair.
“Both of them help me with my sparring and wrestling, since their weight and size is similar to mine,” she reveals. “Besides, they have been training for many years, so they help me with my kickboxing and Muay Thai, as well as jiu-jitsu and wrestling.”
A South American Stalwart
Balin has experienced a tremendous amount of success since making her professional mixed martial arts debut in October 2011.
She has competed primarily in her native Argentina, and compiled an eye-catching 10-2 record. What’s more, five of those victories came via submission, and another four were earned by knockout. Along the way, she picked up the Gladiadores MMA Championship.
Now, Balin will now leave her home country and travel thousands of miles across the world to challenge Xiong for her ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship in Macau.
While “La Gladiadora” will be stepping into enemy territory, she is not concerned about the home crowd supporting its Chinese hero.
“It is not something I worry about really,” Balin says. “It is more of an incentive. I do not really take into consideration if I am on the home side or the visitor side. I am going to give my best all the same.”
Ultimately, Balin is hoping her best will result in extending her four-bout win streak and returning home with a mixed martial arts World Championship.
“I am ready to fight for the title and bring it [back] to Argentina,” she says.
Macau | 23 June | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast