She hails from a land, the Aosta Valley, which is famous for skiing in the world of sports, and she is the only superstar who doesn’t practice a snow sport. We are talking about the 31-year-old Italian strawweight striker Martine Michieletto (48-13-5), the ISKA and WKU Kickboxing World Champion, and the WMF Muay Thai World Champion. She currently holds the tenth position in the Combat Press Women’s Pound-For-Pound Kickboxing rankings. On Friday, Jun. 9, inEastern Daylight Time, she will make her debut at ONE Fight Night 11 at the iconic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. She will be taking on British fighter Amber “AK-47” Kitchen.
GC: Hello Martine, thank you for your availability. First of all, how are you?
MM: I’m doing pretty well, thank you.
GC: After signing with ONE Championship, we haven’t witnessed your debut yet. Is there any particular reason behind this wait?
MM: I was supposed to fight, as many of you know, in May 2021 against Anissa Meksen. However, the day before leaving, we were informed that Singapore was under lockdown, and the event would be postponed. Subsequently, several issues related to the pandemic arose. But now, finally, I received the call I was waiting for, and on Jun. 10, it will be my turn for the official debut against Amber Kitchen.
GC: Which other opponent would you like to face?
MM: I really wanted to fight Anissa Meksen. She had agreed to fight in my weight class (strawweight -56.7 kg), which is close to the one she fought in GLORY Kickboxing, in the match that was supposed to be my debut. Now, it seems she’s leaning towards fighting in atomweight, and she’s no longer available in ONE Championship. Actually, I have no specific preferences. I just want to prove my worth in the top global promotion.
GC: We know that ONE Championship has both kickboxing and Muay Thai belts. What is your goal? Do you intend to compete in both disciplines or focus on one in particular?
MM: My goal is to win the belt in both disciplines. So, yes, I intend to compete in both rulesets, as I have always done over the years.
GC: How did you manage this waiting period from a physical perspective? How did you plan your training? Is there any particular aspect you worked on?
MM: Even when I didn’t have a match on the horizon, I always trained consistently, because I believe it’s essential to maintain good physical condition and always be ready. I certainly worked a lot on patience and perseverance.
GC: Mentally, what are you working on?
MM: Building on the previous question, mentally, I tried to be perseverant and determined, no matter what. I signed a contract, and I knew my commitments in ONE would be scheduled as soon as possible, and that’s how it turned out. What I can tell you is that I have always proven my worth, and I still have a lot to say. Without presumption, I feel that no one deserves to compete in ONE more than I do, and the wait is finally over.
GC: To reach the world elite, you have worked hard and won a lot. What advice would you give to young fighters who follow you?
MM: Yes, it’s true that I have worked hard and achieved a lot, and I acknowledge that. The advice I want to give to young fighters is to learn the value of sacrifice and accept it. Many youngsters want to succeed without sacrificing anything. This is not possible. I don’t like sugarcoating things, so I’m honest in telling you that to become strong and win, dreaming is not enough; you have to put it into practice. I wasn’t born a prodigy. Everything I have done and achieved is the result of continuous work over the years and having an excellent coach. So, guys, I also want to tell you that when you choose a team and a coach, evaluate carefully whom you trust.
GC: In your career, you have given us many battles and great matches: what have been the three key moments of your journey so far?
MM: The first one was definitely a full-contact match I had in 2015 – 10 rounds in a discipline that wasn’t mine, at a higher weight than I usually compete in, with only one week’s notice, because I replaced a girl who couldn’t participate due to injury. I lost by points against Julia Irmen, a truly strong opponent. But, after that experience, I told myself that I could do anything.
The second moment was winning the IFMA Muay Thai World Championships. It was a really tough competition with some of the best athletes in the world. I won the gold medal in my category, -57 kg, and I was also named the tournament’s best athlete. I was very happy because I was the first Italian ever to win and receive such an important award.
The third moment is definitely the match I had this year in July at the Antares Fight Night – the defense of the ISKA -57 kg world title. It was an important milestone because, after two years without fighting, I managed to win against Ella Grapperhaus, a strong and challenging athlete, who is the ISKA European champion and Enfusion world champion. It’s extremely difficult to return to fighting after two years, and even more so in a five-round fight.
GC: Women’s fighting is often neglected by mainstream media in Italy. What are the main difficulties you have faced to emerge, and how have you overcome them?
MM: I think this is a more general issue. Personally, as a woman, I have never had any problems despite engaging in a predominantly male activity, at least until a few years ago. Now the women’s movement is much more widespread than when I started, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t encountered any difficulties. What I think is that unfortunately, the media tends to have a general lack of specific knowledge about combat sports, and sometimes misunderstandings and misinterpretations arise. Honestly, this can be quite frustrating.
GC: In the ring, we always see you extremely focused and determined. What are your hobbies in your free time?
MM: Does shopping count as a hobby? Besides that, I spend a lot of time outdoors in the mountains where I live, partly out of necessity and partly because I enjoy it. I have my “little dog” [an Alaskan Malamute NDR] to take for walks every day. I also have a great interest in history and art, and, whenever I have some free time, I travel and visit as much as I can. Going on vacation with me is a nightmare, because I relax for a day or two, and then usually from the third day onwards, I start exploring.
GC: Now, a brief look into the future. If you could choose three rings to fight in and three opponents, who would you choose?
MM: Definitely, the first one would be the ONE ring, the second would also be the ONE ring, and the third one would be the ONE ring. I can’t wait to be in Bangkok. As for opponents, I wouldn’t mind facing Jackie Buntan, Iman Barlow, and Smilla Sundell. All three of them are excellent athletes and very strong.
GC: Three goals for 2023?
MM: Definitely to have some continuity in terms of matches and make the best debut, win the ONE title, and win the second ONE belt.
GC: Three dreams outside the ring?
MM: I think that given my knowledge of combat sports, maybe in the future, I could also venture into the path of being a promoter, and I wouldn’t mind that at all. Another dream is to have the time and conditions to have another dog. Lastly, my third dream would be to open a farmhouse in the area where I live.
GC: To conclude, do you have a message for your fans?
MM: Thank you for waiting for me for so long. I know the wait to see me back in action has been long, but now it’s finally time to step into the ring by my side. I look forward to seeing all of you on Jun. 10.
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