Muay thai fighter Aziza January, 22, has been chosen to represent South Africa at an international martial arts tournament in Thailand, but she needs help getting there.
Now based at Bree Street’s True Muay Thai martial arts gym, she started boxing when she was 13 to tame a short temper that was landing her in a lot of fights and a lot of trouble. A friend, who is a professional boxer, introduced her to the sport and she joined the Portlands Boxing Academy, in Mitchell’s Plain.
Since then, Aziza, who is the eldest of three children, has stayed out of trouble, and last year she felt that she was ready for a greater challenge and joined the South African Muaythai Organisation.
She was selected to compete in the International Thai Martial Arts Festival in Thailand in March, but the trip will cost R18 000 including flights, food, and accommodation.
“I’m feeling nervous but so excited about the opportunity to explore and travel to another country. I really enjoy muay thai; it’s a good stress reliever and takes my mind off everything.
“I feel strong as a woman, and I feel empowered when I am training. I am able to defend myself which is an important skill for a woman to have.”
She says muay thai has helped her stay focused on her goals and taught her self-discipline and respect.
Using a punching bag in the gym is better and safer than fighting on the street, she says.
“Instead of hurting someone, rather do something like this where no one gets hurt. You just punch the bag and release that frustration and anger. I really enjoy it, it makes me feel alive.”
Growing up she enjoyed watching WWE and UFC matches and her passion for the sport was inspired by Ronda Rousy and Amanda Nunes, both UFC fighters.
Her mom, Laiqah January, says she is very proud of her daughter.
“Since a young age she always watched something with fighting in it and no one could switch over or even talk.
“This sport has definitely motived her to be more confident and has decreased all the anger she had. It has made her much stronger and being able to defend herself is her greatest achievement.”
Other parents of children with anger issues should encourage them take up a similar sport, she says.
“I just don’t want her to get lost. I want her to be safe and enjoy every moment, this is one of her biggest dreams.”
To make a donation, call Laiqah January at 074 318 1318.