Interview 

Muay Thai Interview with Miriam Sabot

First of all thank you very much for joining. Highly appreciate you taking the time to do this! Before we start with the tough questions, could you introduce yourself to our readers?

I‘m Miriam Sabot, I’m 34 years old, I come from Italy but I’m living in Thailand since February 2014. I work in Chiang Mai as a customer care agent for an european company: basically I answer to the phone 8 hours a day. I spend the rest of the day training in muay thai and I barely have the time to sleep.

I’m training in Chiang Mai at Hongthong Muay Thai Gym. The training is good, but I’ve to train mostly in the morning (because I work with European time) and my body doesn’t respond well as in the afternoon.

Before we talk more about that, let’s get to know you a bit better. What about your personal background? What do you like to do?

I started muay thai in Italy in 2006 in the same gym of Giorgio and Armen Petrosyan. I had my first fight after 2 years (K1 style). What I like to do?! I love this sport, I love to train hard and challenging my limits.

In case you study / work – are you planning to pursue your studies / career further? Or will the focus be mainly on Muay Thai? 

I wish I could quit my job for a while in order to dedicate all my time into muay thai. But it’s not that easy.

You are based in CM, right? What made you go there? And how would you describe living there?

I moved here in Chiang Mai after I’ve been hired from the company I’m still working for. Life in Chiang Mai is very quiet and the life’s cost is very cheap. It’s a very lovely city, with a very nice city center. You can find so many temples all around here, and also a lot of amazing places surrounded by nature.

Any other hobbies besides Muay Thai?

I don’t have time to have any other hobbies because, as I said, I’ve barely the time to sleep. I spend all my days off in the gym, I asked to the boss of the company to work on Sunday (when the gym is closed) in order to train more during the week.

When I’ve holiday I like to travel, read and spend time with my friends.

After having interviewed a few fighters i heard quite often that their families aren’t always happy with them doing that. How is that with your family? 

They are all very proud of me but they don’t like that I fight. My dad has never come to watch me fight; he said that it’s against nature to watch his daughter fight without the chance to protect her. He always watches the video of my fight, when he is sure that I’m ok and I’m not hurt.

What is one of the most distinguishing features of Muay Thai. What makes it so special? For me, when I started, I was impressed by how fast and how much one has to think. There’s so much more to it than just punching or kicking.

The beauty of Muay Thai is the fact that you have always something to improve. There’s never and end to it: every day is a challenge for your body and for your skills. After some years of training I felt more confident on my self even outside the gym. Discipline and dedication made me grow up and surely improve as person.

Did you start Muay Thai as fitness first (there seems to be a bit of a hype around that at the moment) or did you say right away “I’ll fight!”.

When I started, in 2006, I was already very fit. I did a lot of aerobics and stuff like that. But I got bored of it. I tried “fit boxe”, a sort of aerobics where you throw punches and kicks following the music. So I decided that I wanted to learn how to kick and punch properly. I entered in Satori Gladiatorium Nemesis  (Petrosyan’s Brother Gym of that time) on March 2006 and since I put my feet inside for the first time I’ve been sure to be in my place.

The training was tough but I was and I am tough too.

miriam sabo muay thai

When did you have your first fight?

After 2 years of very hard physical preparation, I had my first fight. It was in Italy in K1 rules. I won by points and I did count my opponent twice.

How many fights do you have by now? Do you know your record?

I have over all 32 fights (including the first 4 amateur fights, with protections). I’ve to discern between Muay Thai fights and K1 fights…Muay Thai rules: 9 W (4 KO), 8 L, no D. K1 Rules: 10 W (1 KO), 1 D, No L.

How did it feel when you started and you got hit in the face for the first time?

In my italian gym every sparring session was an hard one. So basically the first time I got hit in the face in the ring I was a little bit surprise but I replied harder. I was not angry, but I wanted to give her back that punch.

Did you ever get knocked out?

No, never.

Do you get angry when you fight?

Not at all. Anger makes you lose mental clarity that it’s one of the most important thing that makes the difference inside the ring.

Is there something like trash talk in the ring?

It never happened to me.But I think I wouldn’t like it at all.

Do you also had Amateur fights? 

Yes..I had my first 4 fights with protections (always k1 style)

Usually I wouldn’t ask that but for fighters it’s interesting…what is your weight class? And do you have to cut weight before a fight? How do you do that? Thai style in Sauna Suit? 

I usually fight in 56-57 kg. I’ve always fight in this category or 58-59 kg.

I’m usually around 58-59 kg in normal life. But it’s about one year that I built more muscles and now I normally stay around 60 kg.

However it’s not so difficult losing weight here in Thailand: weather is always hot or very hot. Plus I usually do a proper diet and I never cut the weight in the last days before the weight in.

How does your nutrition look like? Are you very careful in regards of your food?

When I’m preparing for a fight I’m very strict with my diet. I basically stop to eat bread, rice and pasta. I usually eat grilled chicken breast or grilled pork. Vegetables and fruits are allowed but when I’m very close to the weight in I try to not eat them too much because I have to cut also the water.

How often do you fight?

Normally once a month but I could fight more if I didn’t work. It’s not easy to arrange the working shift according to my training needs.

Is it difficult to get fights?

Here in Thailand it’s not difficult to find fights. The challenge is to find a good fight, paid well and with a good level opponent.

Is there something that you like the most in training? Sparring? Pad work?

Yes, sure! I love doing pads but most of all sparring!

miriam sabot muay thai

After coming here I realized punching doesn’t get you many points in Thailand, right? What’s your take on the scoring system?

I had to learn the scoring system in 2011 when I had my first fight ever in muay thai rules, the first time ever in Thailand. It has been for the Queen’s Cup, for the WPMF belt. I fought against a canadian girl much more heavier than me (Lindsay Ball, you can find the fight on youtube). I didn’t know anything about clinching because until that day I fought in K1 rules (at the time I had only 7 fights and she had more than 40 fights). I did a great fight: if punches were counted I could win! But I lost by points.

Do you follow pro boxing or MMA as well?

I love boxing. About MMA I follow only the big matches, especially females.

Do you have a favorite fighter outside of MT?

I like many boxers, Mayweather, Gennady Golovkin, Bernard Hopkins, Canelo Alvarez, Donaire and many others. In MMA Chris Cyborg is my favorite! But in k1 there is only one who is the king: Giorgio Petrosyan.

And within MT? Lots of people like Yod’s or Saenchai’s styles at the moment…

There are many fighters that I love in muay thai. Of course I like Saenchai’s style, as I like Somrak Kamsin or Samkor. Now I’m interested in Sittichai’s style.

miriam sabo muay thai interview

How would you describe your fighting style?

Definitly it’s not a muay thai style. I think my style is more suitable to k1 style because I move a lot in the ring.

I just saw some footage of Buakaw training MMA. Any plans on trying this too some time?

No. I think it takes a life to learn  in a good way one martial art and maybe it wouldn’t even be enough. So I’m not going to fight in such a different kind of sport.

How is it with the Muay Thai culture? Does that play an important role for you?

I love everything about Muay Thai, especially the legendary story of Nakanom thom. I’m very respectful of all the rules and traditions that sorround it.

Since you can’t fight at Lumpini or Rajadamnern is there a place that you would like to fight at? I heard about the Muay Thai Angels. Is that something you consider interesting?

Actually I fought already twice in Muay Thai Angels. The first time in October 2014 against Chommanee Taehiran and the second time on February against  Saifa. I lost the first time on points (I didn’t fight as usual, I think I wasn’t focus during the fight) and the second time I lost by points but I’ve been robbed (even the referee lifted my hand up and had been very surprise about the outcome).

Now I fight everywhere, I fought in Sydney, Kuala Lumpur (where I won a world title belt) and China. I would like to fight in Japan one day…we’ll see!

When talking more about the culture. How is it with the Wai Kru for you? I have to admit I still don’t feel too comfortable doing it. Do you have a long one?

I love and I totally respect the thai culture. That’s why I prefer to do a very short Wai Kru: I’m not able to dance with beautiful movements, I think I look like a robot when I do it. I should practice it a life to improve it properly!

miriam sabot muay thai

Did you ever get injured from a fight?

I got cut by an elbow when I fought in Sydney, last November. I have 2 stitches on the right eyebrow and 2 down the right eye.

Not other injuries in fightings.

How is it with your training? Will you do weight training by yourself or with your coach for example?

I basically plan my training, I do diet and I lose weight all by myself: I’m not a puppy! lol But I’ve to say that I wouldn’t do anything if I hadn’t a good team behind. And for team I mean Hongthong gym, with my trainers Gen, Joe and SuperBank: they work and train hard with me everyday. Plus all the people who come in the gym and who are part of it, my mates: I learn everyday something from each of them!

How does a ‘normal’ training day look like for you?

I can train only once a day because, as I said, I’ve to work. So in one session I try to do everything I need to do. I always start with a run (around 4 km, if I’ve to lose weight I run 8 km), then skipping for 10 or 15 minutes. I usually do some exercises to warm up all the muscles and a little bit of stretching, especially for my hips and legs. Then I do shadow boxing for a while (usually 3 rounds of 3 minutes and I use the break between the rounds to do some sit ups, squat and push ups).  My trainers hold me the pads for 4 or 5 rounds and the last round they let me do speed work that means that I have to kick and punch many times as faster as I can.

After the pad works it depends on the day: I can do sparring, clinch or bag….sometimes even everything.

At each end of the lesson I do 200 knees and 100 frontal kicks at the bag and sit ups, around 300 (in different ways)

Do you actually have time for friends and entertainment when preparing for a fight?

No, never. I finish to work late in the night (11 pm or midnight) and I have to go to sleep because I’ve to train early in the morning.

How is the acceptance of female fighters among the guys?

Well…I’m alone. But I think it’s just because I haven’t enough time to go out, not because guys are scared of me. Oh well….I hope so.

miriam sabo muay thai

How long do you want to keep on fighting?

I don’t know. I think as long as my body can handle it. But we’ll see.

Do you see yourself as a coach in the future?

I think it will be very hard for me leaving muay thai. Even if teaching is not that nice to me, I think it would be a good option to me.

Do you have some kind of motivational routine when you have to prepare for a fight? Or is it just ‘let’s go, fight’.

I don’t have any special  motivational routine. I think that losing weight for me it is a way to stay  focused on training and on the fight. I hate to be on diet but it helps a lot to organize everything and to arrive, day by day, fitter and fitter at the fighting day.

When are not preparing for a fight and have some time off, do you go out and party?

I’m a fighter not an alien. I’m not a great party girl: I prefer just chill out with my big friends, have dinner together and have some beers. I don’t like to dance and that kind of party stuff.

What do you think about Muay Thai becoming more popular now? Lots of foreigners come to Thailand to learn Muay Thai but they not always take their time to learn about the culture. They’re just here for the fight.

Training muay thai in Thailand is becoming more a sort of trend! There is many people that come here and after one month of training they think they are great fighters. Muay Thai is an ancient martial art and I still have so much work to do to learn and improve the techniques….!! if you come here to train, take your time to learn, try to be humble and listen to every suggestion the kru gives to you. And work harder and harder every day, in spite of the muscles pain and the tiredness.

Did you ever fight someone who was not that respectful because she looked down on you?

Not that I remember it.

How is when you knock out your opponent? Do you feel sorry or excited, happy?

We are both in that ring to win. In order to do that you have to beat the opponent harder than her. Knock her down makes you feel happy, because it’s part of the game we’re playing. Outside the ring I feel sorry for her because it could happen to me.

Very often when I meet fighters the Thai fighters are very humble, nice, polite and totally not in fighting mode whilst lots of foreign fighters seem to always be ready to go and bulked and psyched up. Is that just because I’m in the wrong places or is that something you see as well?

I’m exactly how you describe a thai fighter, very friendly, smiley and humble. I have to say that it’s not about the difference between the country we’re coming from. I met a thai fighter who was very unlikable with me and farangs who are my friends right now. It depends person by person, I guess.

Did Muay Thai influence you personally? Lifestyle wise?

Yes, sure. Since when I started (10 years ago) it helped me a lot to build a very good character. I learnd to be self confident and to believe in myself. It makes you more calm and it helps you to calibrate your reactions. You learn a lot about your self and your limits.

Do you watch your own fights on video after the fights?

Always. It’s one of the best way to improve your skills. I’ve to watch what are my weak points and which are my strenghts from the outside because when I train it’s hard to notice them.

Do you like to see yourself fighting?

Not at all. I hate it because I’m very self-critical and I always find so many mistakes that I don’t even know from where I can start to improve. This is the reason I never share my video on social network or you tube.

What about when you prepare for your opponent. Will you study her too?

Yes, if I know who will be my opponent I surely take a look if there’re some video of her fights. But I prefer to have suggestions from my trainers, or italian friends who I know they are wiser than me.

Did you ever get into a real fight?

If you mean a street fight, not exactly. Last October I got punched twice in the head from a guy while I was quietly drinking a beer with some friends close to the gym. He was upset because I said no many times to him and, without any reason, he hit me when he was behind me. I didn’t even react. He was out of his head.

Now that we’re coming to an end, what’s the motto or message you live by? Is there something like that?

I think my favorite motto is “Where there is a will, there is a way”….and of course “Never give up”.

Your social media links so people can follow you :-)

Miriam Sabot on Facebook

Thank you very much for joining!

Sascha Funk

Founder / Editor at My-Thai.org
Sascha is the publisher of my-thai.org and switched from an online marketing agency life in Europe to a teaching and education life in Thailand. He also writes about Teaching & Technology.

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