‘I’m Living A Dream’ – Muay Thai Phenom Diandra Martin Ready For Biggest Fight Of Her Life At ONE’s U.S. Debut
Diandra Martin is one of the most prominent rising stars coming out of the competitive Australian Muay Thai scene.
The 27-year-old strawweight is now preparing for her third ONE Championship outing against Jackie Buntan at the historic ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III on Prime Video on May 5, where a memorable performance would further elevate her status among the global fan base.
Get to know Martin ahead of that massive clash at 1stBank Center in Colorado, and find out all about her journey to becoming an elite Muay Thai competitor.
Parents Paving The Way
Martin’s parents emigrated from India to Canberra, Australia, where she was born. They thought there would be fewer prospects in their homeland and wanted to offer up more opportunities for their future family.
Martin’s mother worked for the South African High Commissioner and her father worked in elderly care. Together, they were able to provide the kind of comfortable life they had dreamed of for their four children.
“My parents moved here 33 years ago. They moved here before they had any kids. I think they just wanted a better future for us, better education, and they felt that India was potentially a bit too difficult to be able to facilitate that.
“It is really nice. It’s quiet. I found it easy with work and study. So it was just a good upbringing.”
Martin was a sporty youngster and tried a lot of different activities over the years, though none really stuck.
When it came to picking a future, she never thought she’d be a professional athlete, but she did earn a degree in Exercise Physiology in order to pursue her interests.
“I did a lot of athletics. I used to play hockey and soccer as well. But I guess they weren’t really things that kept me entertained for long. I really enjoyed it. But I didn’t really see myself improving as much as I would like.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do, like most 18-year-olds. My parents said you either have to get a desk job or go to uni, and I was definitely not keen for a desk job and sedentary life. So I thought, ‘I’ll go to uni and see how I go.’”
A New Obsession
It was during her time at university that Martin came across Muay Thai – although she initially had no idea that it would become her career.
She went along to a class with a friend when she was 19 years old and enjoyed the vibe and camaraderie that she found inside the gym.
The Australian said:
“I started off when it was a buddy week and my friend brought me. I just wanted to have a go and build my confidence in that way, and just learn how to defend myself.
“My first session was pads. I learned some techniques and hit the pads. And then my friend wanted to stay for sparring. I thought, ‘Here we go, I’m going to get a big guy, I’m going to come home with a broken nose or something.’
“But it was heaps of fun. Everyone there was super kind. They took it easy on me, which was nice, especially because it was my first time. And it just fascinated me.”
While she had always been active and trained in different sports, Martin soon started seeing Muay Thai on an entirely new level.
She fell in love with every aspect of “the art of eight limbs” – from training to competing – and before she knew it, she’d become a professional fighter.
The MuayU representative said:
“This was the first time that I had that adrenaline and was tested in a different way. It made me dig deep. So I kept going until I had my first fight.
“And then that adrenaline of having your first fight and having your hand raised, I’ve never experienced something similar. So I just kept going. Now here I am.”
Keeping It In The Family
It wasn’t long until Martin’s sister, Devina, caught the Muay Thai bug, too.
Now also signed to ONE, the younger sibling tried it out after seeing how much fun her sister was having – and there was no looking back for her, either.
“I started originally, and about a year later, I was like, ‘Come try this.’ And then she tried it. She fell in love with it just like I did. And we’ve been doing it ever since.
“It does [get competitive]. Basically, she’s the only person that if she hits me hard, I’ll go harder. But it’s quite funny because we just want to beat each other each time, and it just goes up and up.”
Having her sister right there to push her and motivate her is a huge boost for the elder Martin because she knows when the round ends and the gloves are off, there will be no animosity or bad blood.
After they’ve helped push each other in sparring, they’ll have each other’s backs as they both hunt for greatness in martial arts.
“Yeah, I really do [think there’s a benefit to that extra competition], having people always there to test me. It’s great having people supporting you, especially my little sister.
“[In sparring] it’s the heat of the moment, and then right after it’s just like nothing’s happened. What’s good, especially in training, is we’re very professional. Once training finishes, we’re just back to normal because we live together.”
‘Have Your Popcorn Ready’
With a strong support network behind her, Martin has rocketed up the Muay Thai ranks.
Her only ONE loss came in a gutsy performance against current ONE Women’s Strawweight Muay Thai World Champion Smilla Sundell, but now with a victory under her belt and some wind in her sails, the Aussie phenom believes she can climb to the very top.
That journey will continue with her bout against Buntan at ONE’s first-ever United States show on May 5, and if she can leave a big impression that evening, Martin will make her case for a rematch with Sundell – this time, with gold on the line.
With so much at stake, she’s promising to showcase new aspects of her striking – and embrace every moment of the biggest fight of her life:
“It’s awesome [to compete at this event]. I’m so stoked. As an athlete, I have gotten more noticed worldwide with my fights against Smilla and Amber Kitchen. Taking on big names, never saying no to anyone, and being recognized in the sport for what I can do is really great.
“And now I can go to America and show people what I can do. How many people get to say that they get to travel the world for their sport? I’m living a dream that I never thought I would.
“You’re going to see a new Diandra; you’re not going to see the same old things. So just get excited and have your popcorn ready. It’s going to be a good show.”