Anna Silva, 33, tells Dilvin Yasa how she stepped up and into the cage to set an example for her young daughters.
“That a mother of two could become a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter might surprise some. I was working as an online bank consultant and had two young girls (then aged 5 and 1, respectively) when I went to support a friend, who’s an MMA fighter, at one of his matches.
“When we arrived, there were cameras everywhere — it was his debut fight as an [online show] Wimp 2 Warrior (W2W) contestant. My friend said I should audition for the next series.
“I thought he was joking. I’d only ever seen UFC fighting before on TV and it looked brutal.
“Regardless, my friend kept encouraging me to audition. Eventually, the thought of ‘what if?’ was more powerful than, ‘what if I get hurt?’.
“I quickly posted a 60-second application clip where I said I was entering it for all the mums out there, and to show the world that just because we have kids and jobs, and very busy lives, that doesn’t mean we can’t do something great for ourselves.
“When I found out I won the online competition with almost 400 votes — many of them mums — I was stoked. I had a mission, and now I had to make it to the next round.”
GETTING FIGHTING FIT
“If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of W2W, the show takes everyday people with no MMA experience and turns them into fighting machines through six months of rigorous training.
“For the tryouts I went through three hours of gruelling conditioning and I actually quit three times before the coach talked me around.
“The fourth time I walked off the mat, he didn’t chase me and I realised this was a ‘now or never’ moment. I had to set a positive example to my girls; I walked back on and promised to commit 100 per cent. With my new mindset, I aced the tryouts and I was welcomed to sign up for training.
“What followed was six months of intensive training at a centre located two hours away from home.
“Every morning I’d leave the house by 3.30am to get to training by 5.30am and then start the drive back home at 7.30am — just in time to start the work day.
“The training itself included everything from martial arts to mental conditioning.”
“MMA isn’t just about the physical elements (although I did lose 15kg this time), but about gaining mental strength and strategies.
“The whole time I kept telling myself that if I can survive getting punched in the face, I can survive anything life throws at me. Needless to say, by the time my first fight was announced, I was exhausted, cranky and ready to go.
“The first time I fought, the biggest hurdle I had to overcome was my concern about hurting my opponent. It was someone I’d become friends with during training, but the minute I felt her fist connect with my body, I just went, ‘Hell, no!’, and pictured her as someone who was trying to enter my home and harm my kids.
“What does a mother do in that situation? You do whatever it takes to stop them.
“The fights are three lots of three-minute rounds, and nine minutes later I was declared the winner. I was so overcome with emotion that I fell to the floor and sobbed.
“Initially I thought I was done with fighting, but once I watched the footage a few days later, I realised how much I loved being in that cage. When I was asked to enter another fight last December with a more experienced MMA fighter, I didn’t hesitate.
“Although I didn’t win, I now know it’s in my blood and I’m training for at least one more match before my fiance and I try for our next baby. I’m fitter and stronger, physically and mentally, than I’ve ever been and I feel like I can take on the world and win.
“Sometimes people ask me if I’d recommend MMA as a sport for women and I say absolutely! We give birth, raise families and hold down jobs — we’re stronger than we think.
“It’s empowering to do something outside the expected daily routine. My advice? Don’t knock it until you try it.”
Courtesy of: Daily Telegraph