Interview with Kevin Von Duuglas-Ittu

Kevin Von Duuglas-Ittu asked to interview me after I finished a training session with Sylvie in Pattaya last month. He was interested in talking to me about my life in Bangkok, and how that’s changed over the last few years. I love how he always has so much enthusiasm for what I’m doing. Along with Sylvie, he’s always been such a great source of support.

Despite only living a couple of hours away from Sylvie, I hardly ever get the chance to train with her. That means that when we do get together, there are always some interesting changes. Sylvie describes this in her post about the interview.

“I’ve known Emma for a number of years now and we’ve become very good friends. She lives in Bangkok and I live in Pattaya, so we don’t get to see each other in person often, but every time we do it’s wonderful. Mostly because I just like Emma a lot. We keep in touch regularly, so I know what’s going on with her and she with me, but because our visits are spaced apart, the ways in which both of us have changed can be quite dramatic at each of those meetings. That, in itself, is very cool.”


This isn’t the first time I’ve been interviewed for Sylvie interviewed me in January 2016, similarly, after a training session at her gym. When she published the second one, it prompted me to revisit the first, and it was interesting to see how things changed between the two.

In the first video, I talk about some of the problems I’d run into with my gym and my fights. I described being in “a period of change”, but I had no idea what that meant at the time. Sylvie asked me what advice I would give to people who weren’t happy in their gyms, possibly prodding me to make a decision about my own. We’d talked about how I’d felt for some time that things weren’t right with mine, but hadn’t yet made the leap to actually doing something about it. The following year, I finally did so, and left my gym after living and training there for more than four years.

That decision opened up a whole new path for me, and lots of other things have changed since then. The initial interview was prompted by a trip to Pattaya to watch my then boyfriend fight. He’s out of the picture now, but that seems like the least important adjustment of them all. I’ve settled in a new gym, taken up powerlifting, and given up my teaching job for a career in freelance writing. I’ve also allowed myself to have a much more active social life, making more time to get out and see much more of what Bangkok has to offer. My whole lifestyle is completely different from the way it was back then. While I miss the times when everything in my life revolved around Muay Thai, I’ve enjoyed adding new things into the mix since then.

sylvie von duuglat ittu interview emma thomas may thai powerlifting bangkok


When I look at the two interviews side-by-side, the first thing that strikes me is how physically different I look in each of them. Of course, I’m a little older now and the fact that I’m no longer in that routine of fighting regularly means that I’m heavier, too. I mention this because in the earlier interview, I made a comment about my weight at the time. “I’m 53 kg now, and I’m way bigger than I should be!” Sigh. At a comfortable 57 kg right now, it’s laughable to look back at that. I’ve always had issues with my body image, but I like to think that I deal with them much better these days. Now, I’m much more comfortable in my body. Having had Invisalign in the years between these videos means I also smile much more in the second one. Both of these things contribute to a visible change in my confidence in the second video.

They’re not the main contributors, though. Powerlifting has been the driving force behind this evolution. In the second interview, I talked a little about how empowering it has been for me to take up strength training, and what it’s added to my life. Like Muay Thai, I got into it without any real expectations and ended up taking to it really well, and competing very soon after. I wonder if my experiences with this sport will be just as transformative. By the looks of things so far, it just might be.

Despite all of the things that have changed over my years in Bangkok, I’m glad that my friendship with Sylvie isn’t one of them. That has remained constant throughout both of our journeys here in Thailand, and is something that I’m really grateful for. Kevin wrote about that beautifully in his post below.

Here’s the most recent interview. 

The first interview, published three years earlier.


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