Fighting her way to the top of wrestling
How much can you tell about a person by just meeting them?
Most people who meet Michelle Montague for the first time would have no idea her ultimate goal is to become a professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter.
That’s the 23-year-old Hamilton Hawks Wrestling team member’s long-term goal. But for now she is focusing on wrestling, just one aspect of Mixed Martial Arts.
Recently she was named in the New Zealand wrestling team to compete in the Oceania Champs, Tahiti in March.
Montague’s introduction to wrestling came at Core MMA Gym in Hamilton a few years ago.
‘‘I did every single class, one was a wrestling class, I didn’t know what it was like as a sport on its own, but I liked it. For me it was a smaller version of rugby, which I was playing at the time.’’
A wrestling coach invited her to a training camp, which included people involved with MMA, judo and jiu-jitsu and plenty of wrestlers.
She quickly realised what to expect from the sport.
‘‘They saw this girl who was bigger than the rest, so they put me with these boys and I got smashed.
‘‘And all I was trying to do was defend the whole time. You can be as athletic as you can but if you don’t know how to wrestle, they can use it against you.
‘‘It was really a way to see the level the others are at and the high performance side of the sport.’’
Montague has focused on wrestling training, participating in tournaments and has qualified for the Oceania Champs.
Competitors who make the top two in the Oceania finals qualify for the Commonwealth Champs, from which the top six will go to the Commonwealth Games.
She is one of 30 representing New Zealand in Tahiti.
‘‘I am looking forward to getting my jersey with the fern and everyone knowing we are there to represent NZ.
‘‘It’s a cool journey but for me it’s about focusing on having a good leg and being ready for March.’’
While others may not understand Montague’s love for the sport, for friends and family, it’s simply part of who she is.
New Zealand wrestling is not funded, so is raising money to travel and compete. To donate, visit: www.givealittle.co.nz/ cause/montywrestling
Michelle Montague is ready for the Oceania Champs in Tahiti.