Ladies & gentlemen, boys & girls, children of all ages! My-Thai.org is proud to bring to you another great Muay Thai interview with a current World Champion and title holder in two separate promotions. Right now she is on a very impressive streak and does not seem to slow down in any way and therefore is rightfully considered one of the best fighters out there. So please give it up for The Pretty Killer – Iman Barlow!
Usually I start with asking my interview guest to introduce themselves. Just a brief intro so readers, who don’t know you yet, get a brief idea of who’s talking.
- Name- Iman Barlow
- Age – 23 years old
- Ring Name – Pretty Killer
- Fight Weight – 54kg
I started muay thai when i was 2 and a half years old. I had my first fight at the age of 4 and my first fight in Thailand at the age of 8 years old. I have dedicated my life to training and fighting and now I travel the world doing what I love.
Who came up with your nickname? Not that I’m scared or anything…;-)
I was given my fight name ‘PrettyKiller’ at the age of 8 years old before my first fight in Thailand. It was given to me by my Thai trainer Jitti Damuram owner of the famous Jitti Gym based in Bangkok.
So now that we know who you are, let’s talk a bit more about your background before we talk about what’s happening now and what’s coming up. Besides fighting, what else do you do?
I have just come back from Las Vegas where I had my 1st title defence for Lion fight where I won. I had a few days off and now back training for my next fight on my home show March 4th. Besides fighting and training I also have full time job as a teaching assistant, which I love.
In regards to fighting. When did you start? And what did your parents, family, friends say? Do they support you or do they always worry about you?
I started age 2 and a half. My dad owns a thai boxing gym and my mum was a fighter so instead of getting a babysitter I used to sit there in there classes and eventually I used to just join in and I’ve never looked back. Obviously my parents are very supportive and my dad is my trainer so we have a close relationship, my younger brother Thai Barlow also trains muay thai and is my sparring partner and also a great fighter.
Can you walk us a bit more through your fighting life? What did you start first? Was Muay Thai? Kickboxing? Or did something else bring you into the sport?
I started muay thai young and fought every weekend travelling the country taking part in interclubs. Sometimes I would fight girls and boys muay thai and kickboxing, whatever I could to be able to get fights.
Related to above. What’s the best about being a fighter? And what’s the worst?
Best part of being a fighter is the fighting. The rush the adrenaline putting all that hard work from the gym into play in the ring. I love it. The worst is probably the sacrifices you make, not missing one session. But in the end when you win you realise it was all worth it.
When did you have your first real fight and how did it feel getting ‘hurt’ for the first time?
I don’t remember. I have never really been hurt from a fight just bruises. I get injured more from walking around and being clumsy.
Are you scared or afraid to lose when you fight?
100% losing is the worst feeling which is why i am always so determined to win. I train hard for every fight so i am always confident going into the ring. I always visualise myself winning, never losing.
Are you angry when you compete? Or do you need to get pumped up?
Neither. I am very relaxed and just concentrate on the fight ahead.
Do you feel bad or sorry for hurting an opponent?
After the fight yes of course I don’t wish harm upon anyone, but while in the ring it is part of the game which is why we train to compete. I always think they would do the same to me. I will always hug my opponent after the fight and exchange words and i usually stay friends with most of my opponents.
What part of training is the worst for you? What part do you like the most?
The worst part of training is getting yourself motivated and getting into the gym, once your there and the sessions done I feel proud and happy. I like smashing pads, I mean its hard sometimes but I get a sense of realization; especially after a good session.
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 fight?
Yes i cut weight, nearly all fighters do. I don’t like it of course but if you get the right balance and learn to do it the right way its a lot easier on your body. Ive been doing it along time and have found the right balance so now I wont look as rough or drawn out as much as I used to.
How often do you usually compete?
I like to fight regular say every 6-8 weeks but sometimes it’s hard. Last year I had 6 fights which is good. I would have liked more though.
Do you have any favorite martial artists? Someone you look up to?
All fighters are great, I don’t really have a favorite but I would say my family definitely inspired me, especially my dad. He is at every session I am, gets up early in the morning to train me, and is there every step of the way, motivating me and encouraging me. I just want to make him proud.
Alright. Down to the nitty gritty. Did you ever have devastating loss? How did you feel afterwards? How did you handle it and could you take away something from it?
I was ko’d in 2014. It was a crazy feeling so strange because I wasn’t hurt, I wanted to carry on but visibly couldn’t. I learnt so much from it. I shouldn’t have fought anyway as I had fallen of a motor bike 2 days before and had a concussion but did not tell my dad as I knew he wouldn’t let me fight. I didn’t understand how dangerous it was and I was silly and defiantly learnt the hard way. It was difficult to talk about after it happened i was so gutted but now I just laugh about how stupid i was. Went back to the gym and trained hard and adapted some things in my technique. I think sometimes when you are winning so much you forget what its like to loose so i was good for me in a way now i look back.
Did you ever get injured?
I used to be a runner, run cross country and 800, 1500m when I was 16 i had to stop as I suffered from a bad back, it never really recovered I’ve just learnt to manage the pain.
How does a normal training day look like? Is it all planned out or do you have to do weight training and cardio by yourself?
Usually i will run before work and do boxing rounds in the morning, the a night session will be muay thai. So it will consist of skipping, padwork, drills, clinching and sparring. Usually about a 3 hour session
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?
Yes I think its great, it gets a lot of exposure media wise which is why people love it. For me, I am not in love with the sport like I am with muay thai so i am not into it as much as others.
Who do you like to watch fighting these days?
I don’t really watch fights online as most of the time I’m training or working and when I’m not I just like to chill with friends. But I do love going to shows and watching fights live.
Is there any particular venue or event where you would want to compete at?
Ive always wanted to go to America and Australia which I have ticked off but I would also like to go more places in these countries. Japan is also on my list and I think that would be amazing and definitely somewhere like Dubai!
What’s the one biggest win for you? Which was your proudest moment as a fighter?
When I was 14 I fought Dephar the Thai champion for the S1 world title in Bangkok stadium. I won the fight and it was on Thai TV. Definitely one of the best moments ever.
What other talents do you have, besides fighting?
Being funny ☺
What’s your worst trait? Anything that people make fun of or that you don’t like? (e.g. clumsy, etc.)
It used to be my teeth but I got braces. haha. People would say I am a bit goofy, up for a laugh and definitely clumsy, they have no idea how I can be so gracious in the ring and so different out.
Is there a pre-fight routine or anything similar that you “have to” do before a fight? Do you believe in such things?
No. As long as my dad is there and I keep relaxed I am all good.
What’s next for you? Any immediate and long-term plans?
Just to keep on winning, I’m keeping the Enfusion and Lion fight belts
Famous last words
Don’t doubt yourself, work hard and make it happen!
[Tweet “Don’t doubt yourself, work hard and make it happen! #BeInspired”]
That’s it for our interview. Thank you very much Iman! If you liked what you read and want to see more of Iman Barlow, follow her and be inspired on Facebook!
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