Ra­mona Pas­cual

MMA fighter and per­sonal trainer

Prestige Hong Kong - 40 under 40 - - Contents -

We’ve fea­tured sev­eral high-pow­ered women on this list, but when it comes to sheer grit and phys­i­cal power, per­haps none to com­pare with Ra­mona Pas­cual. The pro­fes­sional mixed mar­tial arts fighter and per­sonal trainer is based in Hong Kong — that’s when she’s not trav­el­ling for com­pe­ti­tion. She is the first fe­male to head­line a fight card in Hong Kong and the first woman from Hong Kong to fight for an MMA cham­pi­onship ti­tle. She’s also the first per­son raised in our city to sign with a re­gional MMA pro­mo­tion, Road Fight­ing Cham­pi­onship (the sec­ond largest MMA pro­mo­tion in Asia).

”In muay Thai I hold the 63kg I-1 World Muay Thai Grand Ex­treme Cham­pion ti­tle and I’ve also won a few in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments in Brazil­ian jiu-jitsu,” she says mat­ter-of-factly, as our jaws drop.

How­ever, it wasn’t all her ti­tles and wins that grabbed our at­ten­tion. All eyes were on Pas­cual dur­ing her rivet­ing TEDX talk. “My topic of choice was fear man­age­ment. As some­one who lacked con­fi­dence grow­ing up and through­out my ex­pe­ri­ences as a com­pet­i­tive ath­lete in high-risk sports, I’ve al­ways ques­tioned and tried to make sense of my re­la­tion­ship with fear,” she says. “I de­vel­oped a deeper un­der­stand­ing of it over the last few years when I de­cided to walk away from a se­cure desk job to pur­sue MMA pro­fes­sion­ally. I’ve had to travel alone to im­merse my­self in train­ing camps away from home for long pe­ri­ods of time, once in a place where I didn’t speak the lan­guage. I be­lieve fear dic­tates ev­ery de­ci­sion we make, no mat­ter how big or small, and that man­ag­ing fear can help us over­come ad­ver­sity and lead us to our goals.”

De­spite hav­ing a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in busi­ness from the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia in LA, Pas­cual was al­ways in­ter­ested in sports. “When I started, in my pri­mary school, they didn’t have a sports team for girls.” Which seems so im­prob­a­ble now, in 2018. No teams for girls? “Yeah! Back then. When I got to sec­ondary school I started play­ing basketball and rugby com­pet­i­tively. At 16 I started muay Thai for fun and as a way to keep in shape dur­ing pe­ri­ods when I didn’t have school sports go­ing on, with no in­ten­tion of com­pet­ing. In col­lege, I fo­cused on muay Thai; I only en­ter­tained the idea of com­pet­ing when I turned 21.”

In the com­ing year, look out for her MMA fights, as well as her com­pet­ing in the In­ter­na­tional Brazil­ian Jiu-jitsu Fed­er­a­tion World Cham­pi­onships in LA. ”It would be a plus to have a cou­ple of kick­box­ing or muay Thai fights in as well.” When in Hong Kong, she trains at Es­pada (a Brazil­ian jiu-jitsu gym in She­ung Wan) but when train­ing for a fight, she heads to Thai­land to train with Phuket Top Team.

With her fol­low­ers and fans, Pas­cual is aware of the role-model sta­tus as­signed to her and care­ful of what she says and projects. “At the end of the day, I strive to be some­one my younger self could have looked up to for en­cour­age­ment and in­spi­ra­tion. If do­ing so makes me a pos­i­tive ex­am­ple for oth­ers, that’s def­i­nitely a bonus,” she says. “I strug­gled a lot with con­fi­dence grow­ing up be­cause I didn’t meet the ex­pec­ta­tions of so­ci­ety. I was never skinny enough or smart enough or tal­ented enough. I found my­self al­ways try­ing to please oth­ers and try­ing to fit into a box that wasn’t for me. It wasn’t un­til I got into com­bat sports that I was able to take a close and hon­est look at my­self, and re­alise who I was and what I truly de­sired. It’s been a long strug­gle to make sense of it all but I’m happy to say that I’m fi­nally at peace and com­fort­able with who I am and who I hope to be­come.”

All com­pet­i­tive sports di­vide par­tic­i­pants into win­ners and losers. Pas­cual finds fail­ure noth­ing to be ashamed of, but rather a way to reignite one’s pas­sion to con­tinue. “Don’t be afraid to fail and learn; my mes­sage to young girls would be to ex­plore in­ter­ests and take on chal­lenges, es­pe­cially the ones that scare you. Most im­por­tantly, be­lieve that you have the ca­pa­bil­ity to over­come hard sit­u­a­tions and achieve.”

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