The female stars of ONE Championship have reason to celebrate.
Today, 8 March, is International Women’s Day, and we are proud to give women martial artists an equal platform to showcase their elite-level skills to a global audience.
To commemorate this special occasion, we spoke with four of our female heroes, who were more than happy to share some inspirational messages and valuable gems of wisdom.
Stamp Fairtex — “I want to see people accept female fighters.”
Two-sport ONE World Champion Stamp Fairtex wants to see more promoters across the world give opportunities to women martial artists, especially those in her home country of Thailand.
“I want to see the people accept female fighters. Because now, men and women should be the same,” she says.
“I would like to see promoters be interested in female fighters and give a chance to the new generation to show their ability to make Thailand well-known to the world. Wherever we fight, we are Thai and we would like to show the world what Thai [athletes] can do.”
The 21-year-old knew some people raised their eyebrows when they saw her taking up Muay Thai, but she always viewed her situation like a job, and one that gave her the best chance to provide for herself and help her family.
“I was born in a family that did not have everything. My parents have a salary of only 10,000 baht (approximately USD$314), so I had to push myself, and Muay Thai could make money for me,” she explains.
“Some people think I am a woman who has a different job than others, but I don’t care. Someone can be a waitress, but I am a fighter. They are both jobs. Each person has their own likes and abilities.”
The Thai has taken her immense talent and transformed it into a history-making career that has seen her become the ONE Atomweight Kickboxing and Muay Thai World Champion.
Audreylaura Boniface — “Surround yourself with people who know how to challenge themselves.”
Audreylaura “Ice Comet” Boniface is known for competing in The Home Of Martial Arts, but she is also a trained medical doctor who plied her trade in the Emergency and Trauma department of the biggest hospital in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
The drive and work ethic to reach that level in the realm of medicine has also carried over to her martial arts endeavors, as she continues to learn and develop her craft.
Boniface firmly believes that gender should not be a barrier to success, regardless of one’s occupation.
”Do not quit or give an excuse that you cannot do something because you’re a woman,” the 29-year-old offers.
“I know some female athletes out there who are really interested in MMA, but quit halfway [into their training] due to various reasons. Don’t let a little bump in your career stop you from reaching your dream. If you want it, go for it.”
Boniface chased her dreams and now, she finds herself in the world’s largest martial arts organization and competing against the world’s most talented atomweights.
The Malaysian’s drive and work ethic brought her to the global stage, but so has the backing of the most important people in her life. That has paid dividends for her, and it could for others, too.
“Surround yourself with people who know how to challenge themselves,” she advises.
“I’m grateful that I’m surrounded by all these people, my family and friends, who have always been very supportive of my ambitions. They always push me to be better. Even if it’s a negative comment, I’ll take it as motivation to be better.”
Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol — “Strong women should be smart and independent.”
Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol has enjoyed a meteoric rise in The Home Of Martial Arts.
She went from promotional newcomer to Indonesian mixed martial arts pioneer, as she has risen through the ranks of the women’s atomweight division to become a legitimate contender.
The 30-year-old Jakarta native hopes to inspire other women through her performances inside the cage, and her conduct outside of it.
“I just want to convey simple ideas like showing respect to your elders and parents, especially your mother,” she explains.
“With this, you will get everything you have ever asked for, as a mother’s prayer creates miracles and will help you along your path.”
Lumban Gaol was also clear that females should be strong and independent, and deserve to be respected for who they are.
“Women should not only be judged by their looks and body,” she elaborates.
“We should have great qualities and the ability to become stronger each day to take on any challenges and heavier competitions.
“Every successful woman — be it career-wise or as a housewife — should possess a strong character that will not easily give in to every problem we encounter in life. In this sense, strong women should also be smart and independent, as we should not expect and depend on anyone else but ourselves.”
Gina Iniong — “We have tons of potential in this sport.”
The Philippines’ Gina “Conviction” Iniong has lived and trained alongside some of the promotion’s best male athletes as an integral member of Baguio City’s Team Lakay.
Now, the 29-year-old believes the women’s side of the sport is beginning to gain some real traction.
“I’m happy that women’s mixed martial arts here in the Philippines is starting to grow,” she says.
“Now, many promotions have weight classes for women, which proves that mixed martial arts is now for everybody.
“Women are starting to recognize that we have tons of potential in this sport — not just as an athlete who wants to stay fit, but also as a competitor in life, as it also develops our will to win and to achieve more.
“It only shows that women can also dominate and, at the same time, entertain fans. You can now also see highlight-reel knockouts and submissions from us, which only proves that the future of women’s mixed martial arts is very promising.”
The Filipina hopes her battles inside the cage will serve as an inspiration to women all across the globe, as she continues to prove that she can produce eye-catching performances that entertain fans in Asia and beyond.
“Mixed martial arts gave direction to my life and is the main reason for the good life I’m enjoying at the moment,” she confesses.
“I will always want to perform better so I can inspire other ladies. I will continue to prove that we could do anything that men could do.”