One of the first things Sylvie Von Duuglas-Ittu learned when she moved to Thailand was taking a long nap after training is probably not a good idea. Too much sleeping means no eating means weight loss. And at 47 kg, that’s not so smart, the American fighter says.
If you follow women’s Muay Thai online, you might have come across one of Von Duuglas-Ittu’s YouTube videos or maybe you follow her on Facebook. Part of a new generation of fighters, Von Duuglas-Ittu says her online work is as much part of her career as what she does in the ring.
‘What I’m doing now is such an opportunity, I wanted to share it with as many people as possible and give to other women in the world,’ she says, speaking from her apartment in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.
Her YouYube channel has been viewed more than one million times and her Facebook page reached 1,000 likes this week. So while many mainstream sports publications are still working out that women fight, the internet is showing the way.
Von Duuglas-Ittu started her adventure in Thailand through her website 8 Limbs Us, gathering sponsorship and attention with the eye-catching design. But what really caught my attention is that she and her husband have moved to Thailand for ‘at least’ a year.
A Year to Fight
Many fighters save up to spend four or maybe six weeks training but the commitment involved in throwing away jobs and homes smacks of something else. Dedication and maybe a little madness.
She says they went on a shorter trip first from their New York base, but just knew they had to go back again. Seven months into the adventure, she has no regrets.
“I lived about 60 miles outside of the city, so I would commute about an hour to get to training. I was training maybe four hours a week instead of seven hours a day,” she says.
Her first trainer at home was Master K, a former Thai fighter who lives in New York. But even with his training, she had a lot to learn when she arrived in Thailand.
“He trains very detailed things that help you learn, no-body can tell you how to do the kick with your hip but he explains how you use your hip for power.
“But he wasn’t making me do heavy repetitions on the bag, he doesn’t hold pads so it was actually incredibly different from Thai training here,’ she says.
Von Duuglas-Ittu’s husband works online and at the moment she focuses just on training, a luxury she says.
“The training out here feels good, it’s not ‘I’m going to go to training now’; it’s a way of life. It’s what you do.”
A Stitch in Time
But just in case you’re thinking Von Duuglas-Ittu is just a key-board warrior, her most recent fight earned her seven stitches. She wrote on her blog: “As my adrenaline wore off the pain of the stitches became more pronounced, but you just sit through it.
“There’s no help in making noise or wincing about it – “take the fight out of your face,” as it goes.”
And yes, she’s uploaded a video of the stitches going in ringside, watch it here on her page.
One of the most exciting things about women’s fighting in Thailand now is how many women are on the circuit. Von Duuglas-Ittu has had four fights already this month - ten years ago that would have taken months to build up. Her fight record is now 15-5-2.
“A lot of the girls I fight now are doing MuayThai as part of their school-work, it’s on their sports or PE work. They have soccer and MuayThai,” she says.
And when I asked if the couple are really going home at the end of the year, she just laughed. Make of that what you will.
I'll be posting more from this interview next week, but in the meantime pop over to 8 Limbs Us for some great posts from Von Duuuglas-Ittu herself.