FIGHT LIKE A GIRL She may have retired from the ring, but former UFC champion Miesha Tate is still fighting, albeit in another arena


ALL IT TOOK WAS ONE PHONE CALL for Miesha Tate to start packing her bags to prepare for a permanent move to Singapore. The former Ultimate Fighting Championsh­ip (UFC) champion may have retired in 2016, but she still wanted to be involved in some capacity with the sport she loved so much. So, she called entreprene­ur Chatri Sityodtong and asked if there was an opening for her to be an instructor at the Evolve MMA gym. Chatri went one better, offering her the role of vice president with his sports media promotion ONE Championsh­ip. We speak to Tate about her plans for the company and what it’s like to move from the Octagon to the boardroom.

Could you share with us how you got the VP role with ONE Championsh­ip?

I’ve always wanted to live overseas, and when I visited Singapore back in 2015, I felt like I could live here. That was also the time that I first met Chatri. We had an immediate connection, so when I retired and thought about doing something bigger and better, I decided to call him. I was blown away when he offered me the role. It exceeded my expectatio­ns of what I had hoped to do.

What do you hope to achieve with the promotion?

First of all, I plan to be very hands on with the relationsh­ip that ONE Championsh­ip has with the nonprofit organisati­on Global Citizen. We’re working to grow its presence here in Asia so that we can maximise the impacts of their efforts in charity work.

Second, I want to be a strong voice for ONE Championsh­ip in North America. The plan is to eventually hold an event there, and while I am now based in Singapore, I still have a strong network there which I hope to utilise, via my understand­ing of how best to tailor the message that we are spreading.

Finally, I want to expand the women’s division. I think it’s a great move to provide women with more opportunit­ies to achieve their dreams. Hopefully, my presence in ONE Championsh­ip will inspire the women in

Asia to think that they too can be strong and successful in martial arts, and that it is not just a sport for men.

Sexism sounds like an important issue for you.

Absolutely. I started wrestling when I was 15 and I was looked down on for being a female competing in a men’s sport. Even my team tried to get me to quit because they didn’t want a girl among their ranks.

I was the only female who consistent­ly came for training, so I had to keep training with men. They tried to make it as hard for me as possible so that I would quit, but I’m quite stubborn [laughs].

That’s been the storyline throughout my career. But I thrive in the face of adversity, which is why I agreed to this role. I like being uncomforta­ble and I knew that moving my family across the globe would only result in our growth.

It must have been difficult to uproot your family.

To be honest, it wasn’t a difficult decision at all. I wanted to set an example for my daughter to let her know that a woman never has to choose between having a family and a career. She can have both, and she can make any decision that a man can make.

I think women can do a lot more if they only had the backing from their communitie­s. I always believe that inside every woman is a warrior.

“I wanted to set an example to my daughter that a woman never has to choose between having a family and a career”

Having experience­d both promotions, what do you think are the main difference­s between the UFC and ONE Championsh­ip?

The thing I love about the latter is that it emphasises that athletes are role models and heroes. Chatri’s definition of success is a child putting up a poster of any ONE Championsh­ip athlete on their bedroom wall. We have the ability to inspire our youth with our values, and we can express these values through martial arts.

When you sell the authentici­ty of this product and the athletes behind it, then I think people will identify with it. I’m a purist and I don’t like the trash talk that’s a part of UFC now. I am quite sure I’m not the only one who has grown tired of the drama and antics, and stopped watching UFC because of that. I strongly believe that the segment of the market that appreciate­s the values of the sport can be tapped on. There is potential there. AM

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