A part-time singer with a degree in Communications might not sound like the typical resume for a mixed martial artist, but Nyrene “Neutron Bomb” Crowley‘s journey to ONE Warrior Series was anything but ordinary.
The 29-year-old New Zealand native was a government employee who loved to play sports. However, a chance invitation to train in the martial arts has led to a burgeoning career. In fact, it has taken her to Indonesia, where she currently trains alongside some of ONE Championship’s finest talents.
As she continues to cultivate her skills, learn a little bit more about the atomweight prospect who is looking to make a name for herself in The Home Of Martial Arts.
A Sporty Childhood
Crowley, who was born and raised in East Auckland, New Zealand, was heavily involved in sports during her adolescence.
The future martial artist came from a family that loved athletics, and she was a natural at several different sporting activities, including netball, running, and rugby. She was even a junior gold medalist in the 2008 National Weightlifting Championships.
“Growing up in New Zealand, for me, just consisted of sports — all day, every day,” she explains. “I became really competitive playing sports. That is where my competitive nature comes from.”
Though Crowley also loved to sing in her spare time, her main focus outside of sports was her education. In fact, she attended the Auckland University of Technology, and graduated with a Bachelor of Communications.
“I did a major in television production, with a minor in journalism,” she says. “I was really set on getting into the media industry, or using my degree to get me a good job. I ended up working for the New Zealand government.”
Nothing Quite Like Martial Arts
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Winner by unanimous decision. Was a tough fight today but thank you to everyone that came out supported. My wild stables trainers and family. My parents, and my girl @graciececilia. I'd never get my ass in the ring if it wasn't for you lot. Thankyou for the opportunity @psycho_suttie and Carz. Photo cred to @kt2quick. Thinking of you @shannonreece and Mal x #grindtime #winning #muaythai #wildstables #loveittrainit
Crowley had set up a comfortable life for herself. She had a good paying job, and still participated in sports as much as time allowed.
Soon, however, her life took an unexpected turn.
While preparing for an upcoming rugby match, she stumbled across a group of mixed martial artists, who were helping her get physically fit for the competition ahead.
“I was representing my country in a tag rugby league,” she remembers.
“I was introduced to these boot camps. A friend asked me to get into these boot camps to get fit, so I turned up, and [there were] a whole bunch of fighters there.
“The boot camp was insane. It was intense, and the more I kept coming to these boot camps, the more the trainers were talking me into coming to the gym. I turned up, and as soon as I started training, it was like a drug to me — I just got addicted.”
Crowley, a lifelong athlete, progressed quickly.
Just six months into her training, she made her mixed martial arts debut. The rush and excitement she experienced that night motivated her to devote all of her free time to her training.
“I dropped all the other sports I was playing at the time, which other people were not too happy about, but that is kind of how I got into it. Straight after that first fight, that was it. This is what I wanted to be doing from now on,” she confesses.
“Martial arts was the first, and only, thing that exposes you for your vulnerabilities, and what you really need to address within yourself to become a better person, a better fighter – everything.”
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"All our dreams can come true if one has the courage and determination to pursue them" Sacrifice is a funny thing. You have to almost remind yourself everyday why you do what you do. This picture represents everything for me. The sacrifice, the tears, the happiness and most of all the love for the sport. Not many people know how much we all sacrifice to succeed in this sport, and although it is hard at times; it is by far the most rewarding thing I have ever experienced in my life. I am blessed with a lot. An amazing team at Wild Stables, family and friends that love me and support me beyond all measure, and trainers that believe in me more than I believe in myself. @madetofit you have been the driving force to this title and although this is the beginning, I need to acknowledge that without you dealing with my mental breakdowns, my tears and my smart mouth I would not be here today. I fight to make you proud and I can't ever thank you enough. Roger Earp, Makoto, Hamish, Van, Dana and my homie @_themarshalletk I am forever grateful for your wisdom and the time you give me to make me a better version of myself every day. This is the beginning. #winnerwinner #wkbf #atomweight #titlefight #goals #blessed #grateful #emotionalpost #muaythai #girlfight
Crowley gave up her promising government career to pursue a new ambition in mixed martial arts, and it seemed like stepping into the unknown would be the toughest possible hardship she would face in her young career.
As it turns out, that did not come close to the turmoil she felt when it was time to tell her mother and father about her new life plans.
“In terms of the biggest challenge for me, it was getting my parents on board,” she admits.
”My family has always loved me and supported me, but I think fighting really got to them. For me, they kind of had their own dreams and plans, and bless their hearts, they wanted the best for me. They did not see that me doing fighting was going to provide.”
With a sister — Cheree, who goes by the ring name “Dakota Kai” — currently signed to World Wrestling Entertainment, Crowley’s parents have already had to adjust to their children gravitating towards non-traditional occupations.
Over time, however, “Neutron Bomb” has been able to chip away at her family’s concerns about her new career path. She was even able to convince her parents to attend one of her matches in New Zealand before she relocated to Thailand.
“The more I keep winning, and the more I can reassure them that I’ve got this, the more that they will come on board,” she says.
“They still get a little finicky about when I get hurt, or when I show them pictures of when I have black eyes. The challenge to get them on board was probably the hardest thing for me, because I would have hated it if they were not on board.”
An Unexpected Surprise
Shortly after arriving, the Kiwi saw a message online about ONE Warrior Series (OWS). The documentary series was looking for prospective talents, and that piqued her curiosity.
“I hadn’t been in Bali that long— maybe two months — and then an opportunity came along,” she explains.
“I actually saw it online, but I did not even think to enter, because the trials they were having were in Jakarta, and I was not sure I would have money for the tickets to go to the trial.
“I mentioned it to my trainers, and then a couple of weeks later, they pulled me aside. My head coach said: ‘We are going to get you ready. The trials are in two weeks, and the tickets are all sorted.’ They actually entered me online without me knowing on my behalf.”
The kind gesture from her coaches paid off, as Crowley got accepted into OWS.
Since joining, she has earned a pair of victories — a unanimous decision win over So Yul Kim at the Season 1 Finale in May, and a second-round submission over Anita Karim at the Mid-Season 2 Finale in July.
Crowley hopes to continue winning in hopes of securing a contract with ONE Championship, and eventually, obtain the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title.
“My goal when I left New Zealand was to be a World Title holder within two years, so I am really working towards that,” Crowley said.
“I would really love to hold a title in ONE Championship. ONE Warrior Series is a really great stepping stone to get me to ONE Championship, and then I can start looking at that atomweight championship.”