Ladies & gentlemen, boys & girls, children of all ages! My-Thai.org is proud to bring to you another unique, inspirational, in-depth interview with a very fascinating person. She not only graces magazine covers in her work as a super model but also puts in hard work in the Muay Thai gym and could quite likely knock you out faster than you can say Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model. She’s here to tear down walls built by stereotypes, empower women and inspire. Give it up for Miss Mia Kang!
Hey Mia! Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer those questions. Especially as I interrupted you during fight camp. For those who don’t know you yet, how would you introduce yourself?
I’m Mia Kang, I’m half Korean half British. I was born and raised in Hong Kong. I am a model and a Muay Thai Fighter. I’ve been modeling for over 15 years and lived and worked all over the world. I also used to work in Finance and have a Masters Degree in Finance and Financial Law. I currently live between New York City and Thailand.
Obviously I did my research and know what there is to know about you when stalking you ;-) However before talking more about what’s happening now and what’s coming up, let’s also talk about yourself a bit more. We know you’re a model / fighter / into women empowerment and education – but what do you do when you’re not being busy being awesome? What do you do on a ‘normal’ day? Or on a day off?
Haha, firstly, thank you. I don’t have a daily routine which is good and its bad. Its amazing to have the freedom and excitement of not having routine but I can never plan so need to be super organized. Every day is different but I try and fit in at least 1 training session, and 1 cardio. I will have modeling things weather that means meetings, events, auditions, interviews, shoots. I’m not socializing all the time, I’m pretty focused and like bettering myself whether that be by reading, learning, watching documentaries. I like to surround myself with friends who are equally if not more focused.
Alright let’s ring the bell and start with some fight related question. The obvious one first: Why? Why did you decide that punching and kicking others (and getting kicked and punched) is a good idea?
Its not really something that you decide. Combat sports are definitely appealing to a certain type of person. Some people try this and think ‘oh no not for me’, others try it and think ‘that was nice sure I’ll do that again’, then theres those that think ‘I have to do this’. I tried it, I loved it, an passion/obsession developed.
When did you start? And what does your family say about that? I talked with lots of female fighters from Asia and most of them said their family would tell them that ‘this is not for girls’. Did you face any obstacles in this regard?
I first tried it about 4 years ago just for fitness. My trainer in Hong Kong was an ex Muay Thai fighter so he incorporated it into our workouts. My family have a home in Thailand so I trained here and there when I would go. Only last year I really set aside the time to learn, then there was no looking back.
My family are super westernized and I was raised by my dad and my brothers to be an independent and powerful woman who can do everything a man can do and more. An obstacle that I do face with my family though is that I have a family of intellectuals that place great importance and emphasis on intelligence and education. So choosing to get hit in the head a lot didn’t seem like a smart choice to them. Which is totally fair enough, there are statistics and facts that we cannot argue with. At the end of the day it’s what I love and it makes me happy and they know that.
So many more questions here in this regard. As a model I suppose you have an agency? What did (do) they say when you tell them you gotta go get punched in the face?
I’m so lucky that my agency is very supportive. They knew me before Muay Thai and after Muay Thai and they watched how it changed me and saved my life. Before I was riddled with eating disorders, body dysmorphia, anxiety and depression. I was in a terrible place in my life where I was miserable, insecure and putting my body through so much (like being asked to go on 10 day liquid only diets before shoots) trying to conform to the industry’s standard of beauty. After over a decade of being under the pressures and judgement of the fashion and entertainment industry day in and day out, I just cracked. Then I went to Thailand for a 10 day vacation to get away and clear my head. I moved into a Thai training camp and 10 days turned into 9 months.
I came back, happy, healthy, sane, strong, confident and had rid myself of my insecurities. My agency and the people I work with have nothing but encouragement for me and my Muay Thai. If I want to book time out for training, fights, trips to Thailand, they wholeheartedly support no questions ask.
[Tweet “I came back, happy, healthy, sane, strong, confident and had rid myself of my insecurities #MuayThai”]
Something I do struggle with though is the time management. I just went through it now. I’m currently in Thailand and had to cancel a fight I was planning to having because I have to cut my trip short and return to New York for a job. This was heartbreaking for me – I have been so focused and fixated for weeks, destroying myself training, flew all the way to Thailand and killed myself through camp, and right at the very end I can’t fight. But there will always be more fights and I’m still bettering my craft. Timing is something that is out of my control, and no matter what, I love my job, I am professional to my clients, and I will give them nothing but the best when they decide to work with me. Just as I am dedicated and give everything to my fighting, I apply the same dedication to my modeling too.
According to your IG posts you have ‘your’ gym on Koh Samui, right? Why that one?
That is my local gym. It’s right next to my house. We are like a family there and my trainer Firstt has been with me from teaching me how to do a roundhouse kick to putting on my Mong Kong for my first fight.
Can you walk us a bit through your first Muay Thai experiences? In your Vogue article you talked about it being humbling. How long did it take you from ‘being humbled’ all the time to starting to being able to kick ass?
The beautiful thing about martial arts is that it is forever humbling. You can never know everything. We are all students, we are all at different points of the learning curve. Every day, every training session, I am humbled. I have learnt to detach from my ego, which in the modeling and entertainment world tends to become very inflated.
Do you do the ‘Wai Kru”?
No, I’m not going to pretend that it means something to me. I want to remain authentic to myself.
Are you scared or afraid to lose / get hurt when you fight?
Why would I be? Its irrational, its a part of the game that I have signed up to play.
What part of training is the worst for you? What part do you like the most?
I hate running. I love that feeling when you have a padman you connect with and all the shots and movements connect so fluidly and you flow together like water.
Since we’re on my-thai.org, also some quick questions about Thailand. What makes Thailand, Thailand for you? Anything that stands out in particular?
I was born and raised in Hong Kong so have been coming to Thailand since I was a kid. We have had a place there for about 7 years. It’s my second home. The land of smiles, the nicest people, the peace, the simplicity of life, the sunshine, the beaches, the palm trees and coconuts, the elephants, the sweet and spicy food. It’s paradise in every sense of the word.
In my interview with JWP he hated on weight cutting – How do you feel about that? Do you have to cut weight when you prepare for a competition?
Weight cutting is the worst part of combat sports and I hope one day will be managed and regulated properly.
What’s your take on fighting (thanks to UFC for example) becoming more popular now. Lots of people seem to go to gyms because it’s ‘cool’ now. Is that a good thing?
I think there is a distinction between martial arts and western fighting. Martial arts is very much about respect to your art. Western fighting has this added element of trash talking and violence and, to be honest “entertainment” that sells tickets and pay per view. Yes its great that combat sports are getting more popular, but I hope this aligns with the popularity of martial arts.
Who do you like to watch fighting these days?
Conor McGregor. Yoel Romero. Anthony Joshua. Joe Schilling. Cody Nolove. Saenchai forever. Always Anderson Silva.
What other talents do you have, besides fighting?
I can do card magic haha. #magicmia
What’s your worst trait?
I don’t sugar coat
[Tweet “‘I don’t sugar coat’ @MissMiaKang #Thailand #MuayThai #interview”]
Famous last words
Nothing great ever happens in your comfort zone. Nothing great ever happens in your comfort zone
[Tweet “‘Nothing great ever happens in your comfort zone’ @MissMiaKang #MuayThai”]
That marks the end of our interview. Thanks a lot Mia for your time and the insights and I’m looking forward to seeing you in the ring next time you’re back in Thailand!
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