‘I Was So Lost’ – How Celest Hansen Ditched Her Demons And Bad Influences To Become A Muay Thai Pioneer

Celeste Hansen walks out at ONE Friday Fights 6

Celest Hansen has never lived what most would consider an ordinary life, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Ever since birth, the Australian has walked a different path than most of her peers, and it’s now led her to the global stage of martial arts in ONE Championship.

Next, Hansen will return to action in an atomweight Muay Thai battle against Yu Yau Pui at ONE Friday Fights 29 on August 18, and the surging striker is hoping to cement herself as one of the fastest-rising stars in the division with another victory.

Before she enters the ring at the iconic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, learn all about the 29-year-old and her amazing journey to ONE. 

Early Life On The Road

Most life stories begin with a hometown, but Hansen never had one. The Aussie striker grew up traveling the country with her family in a caravan as they went from place to place with their touring businesses. 

That meant schooling was done at home or on the road, and she learned the value of hard work from the very beginning.

Hansen recalled:

“I had a pretty different childhood. My family lived in a caravan. We didn’t have a house, and we worked everywhere in Australia, working shows, special events, and music festivals. It was a very interesting life. 

“[My family] do a few different things. We sell strawberries and ice cream, chocolates and things like that. We also have carnival games – burst the balloon, roll the coke bottle over, basketball.”

There came a time when Hansen had to take her education more seriously, so her parents enrolled her in a boarding school full-time when she was 11.

It was a major lifestyle shift for the youngster, which she strongly resented at first but later grew to enjoy before graduating and returning to her nomadic roots. 

She said:

“Leaving home at 11 was horrible, let alone completely changing your whole life. I just remember crying the whole day I left. I begged my parents, ‘Please let me leave after Year 10 [of school].’ But I’m so happy I stayed until the end of Year 12. It was really fun. When I finished, I went back to them.”

Shamed Into Trying Muay Thai 

Hansen had been exposed to boxing while growing up, but combat sports were never on her agenda. 

However, at the age of 21, she was pushed to start exercising when somebody poked fun at her weight. And while she liked the idea of boxing, the gym she went to only offered Muay Thai classes, so she gave it a go instead.

Hansen said:

“Someone called me fat. I went to a gym to lose some weight, and it said they offered boxing. But when I went, they were like, ‘Now we only have Muay Thai.’ 

“I’d been to Thailand a few years prior on a holiday and watched the fights at Bangla Stadium [in Phuket]. I watched the girls fight. I was like, ‘Oh my god, it’s freaking sick. They’re just lit up with so many emotions.’ But at that time, I didn’t think of doing it. 

“So yeah, they offered Muay Thai. I tried it. And after the first session, I was like, ’Can I fight?’” 

The coaches at the gym suggested Hansen needed at least six months of training to compete, but she was due to be on the move again and didn’t have the time to wait. 

Instead, she asked about the idea of training more seriously in the sport’s homeland. With some advice from her coaches, the eager upstart traveled to the island of Koh Samui in 2016 – and never looked back.

She said:

“I went to Thailand, and I’ve been here since. I trained in Thailand for a month, and then I fought.

“I don’t know [what it was that captured my imagination]. I just spent my whole life working with my mum and dad – which I loved – but everything I ever did in life wasn’t for me. 

“Then I found Muay Thai, and it just gave me something to look forward to – passion, goals, dreams. And I’d never really felt like that in life. I just knew that was what I wanted to do.”

Fighting For A Better Life

Moving to Thailand to pursue a very raw but strong desire to succeed in Muay Thai was a game-changer for Hansen. 

Before the move, she was drifting through life with no ambition, drinking heavily, and not looking after her body. It wasn’t until she felt a true purpose that she truly saw her chance to get away from her vices.

Hansen said:

“I didn’t know what the future held for me. I drank a lot before. Whatever I do, I give 100 percent. So I was a champion drinker. It wasn’t a very fun life. I knew that if I continued doing that, I would have died. 

“I quit drinking in April 2018. I had stopped two years previously when I started Muay Thai. But the last time I drank was more than five years ago. I promised myself I won’t drink or do anything like that ever again.”

That’s not to say Hansen’s life in fighting has always been easy.

Relationships have gone awry, a global pandemic tossed a wrench into her plans, and she hasn’t always been looked after by somebody with her best interests at heart.

But after all those ups and downs, the talented striker found a new team at Fairtex Gym in Pattaya – run by founder Philip Wong – where she finally feels both home and respected. 

Hansen explained:

“Mr. Wong is honestly the best human being I’ve met in my life. He takes care of all of us. He feeds us, gives us accommodation. Anything you need, he’ll fix it. Some people that are leaders in power are not nice, but he is the opposite. He’s so caring. 

“Now that I have [someone like that in my life], I know how important that is. Before I was so lost. I was fighting girls that were 20 kilos (44 pounds) more than me. People treated me like crap and took advantage of me. But now, he takes care of me like I’m his daughter. It’s the missing piece of the puzzle.”

Aiming For The Top In ONE

With the right team by her side, Hansen believes in her ability to make a huge impact in the world of Muay Thai.

In fact, she’s already broken new ground by competing in the first all-female Muay Thai bout at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium back in 2021.

The Australian followed that up by winning the Road to ONE: Thailand tournament, earning herself a spot at ONE Friday Fights in ONE Championship.

Hansen offered:

“When I came to Thailand seven years ago, there was just no opportunity for a girl. The best thing you could do was just fight at local stadiums. 

“To even think about fighting in Lumpinee, people laughed at you. I told the trainers I wanted to fight at Lumpinee, and they were like, ‘Yeah, whatever.’ I said, ‘I’m going to be the first-ever girl to fight there.’ 

“And it’s worked. Guess who was the first-ever girl to fight in Lumpinee Stadium? And the first woman to become a champion there? Winning the Road to ONE was absolutely life-changing.”

Now with a 2-0 record in ONE after a pair of impressive wins, Hansen knows she’s in the right place to continue her growth.

And when she meets Yu inside the iconic Bangkok venue this week, she’ll give everything she has in hopes of continuing her incredible rise in the sport.

She added:

“I’m so thankful for ONE Championship. Finally, we could become the superstar and make money. They give women equal opportunities.

“My goal is to get into the top tier in Muay Thai and stay there as long as I can.

“This next fight is just another pit stop in my goals. Fight her, get her out of the way, and get closer to the goal.”

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