Smilla Sundell shook up the martial arts world when she became the inaugural ONE women’s strawweight Muay Thai champion at just 17 years old. With another year of experience under her belt, the Swedish striking sensation will return for an all-champion matchup at ONE Fight Night 14: Stamp vs. Ham on Prime Video on Friday, Sep. 29.
“The Hurricane” will defend her gold against ONE women’s atomweight Muay Thai champion Allycia Hellen Rodrigues on the card, which is stacked with phenomenal female athletes up and down – much to the delight of Sundell.
“I think it’s very cool of ONE Championship for doing it. It’s very inspiring, especially for girls, to see that we are doing it so they can also do it,”she told ONE.
“People are starting to see the excitement the female fights bring now. I get messages on Instagram and everywhere saying, ‘Oh, wow, these female fighters are so good,’ and it’s very exciting.”
Although she is still a teenager, Sundell already wants to be an inspiration for girls who look up to her.
She recognizes the struggles that she has had to go through and has now truly embraced the role of World Champion.
“I want [girls watching] to see me as someone that shows if you work hard, you can achieve anything,” Sundell stated.
“I feel more confident now. I feel like a stronger person. I’m still very shy out in public and everywhere else, but now, it’s a lot better because of Muay Thai.”
For the new wave of aspiring martial artists, “The Hurricane” offered a few words of advice. She doesn’t want them to take up combat sports alone and wants them to become comfortable with whatever decision they make as they look to follow in her footsteps.
“I think you should go with a friend or someone you like when you try it out. For me, it was my family. Then it was me and my sister who continued. I think you should take a friend with you or someone that you feel comfortable with,” she said.
“You’ve just got to do it. Just try it, and if it’s not for you then that’s okay. You’ve really got to give it more than an hour or two. Don’t be discouraged even after an hour’s session, because maybe you just had a bad session.”
“I think if you don’t like that place, find another place. Maybe you could enjoy it better at the right place.”
The reigning strawweight queen is well aware of the benefits of taking up Muay Thai.
Along with the physical gains one can make through practicing “the art of eight limbs,” Sundell discussed the positive impact the sport can have on a practitioner’s mental health.
“I’ve seen people in my circle of friends, and even in my family, who are trying it out now. They have grown to like it too. They think it’s very fun and makes them feel fit and feel good about themselves,” she said.
“I think by doing Muay Thai, you will be more confident, and you will feel fitter and healthier. It’s really good training for someone because you move your whole body. It will help you feel good about yourself.”
ONE Fight Night 14 airs live and free on Prime Video on Friday, Sep. 29. The event begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and is free for all Amazon Prime subscribers based in the U.S. and Canada.
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