The name ‘Under the Ropes’ comes from the fact that traditionally, women must enter the ring by going under the bottom rope, while men go over the top. This stems from both social hierarchy and age-old superstition.
I’m a writer, activist and former fighter who’s been living in Bangkok since 2011. Until 2016, I was training and fighting in Muay Thai while working as an ESL teacher.
Growing up, I never had any experience in martial arts of any kind. I wasn’t athletic in the slightest. I studied a Bachelor’s degree in Enterprise in Product Design, originally planning to become a product designer. But after my first year of university, I had a serious case of itchy feet. I needed to get out of my tiny British hometown and travel on my own, and Thailand was the first place I wanted to see. During that summer, I made my first solo trip to Thailand. As most do, I fell in love with the place.
After graduating, travelling was the first thing on my to-do list. I set out on a solo backpacking trip, with Thailand as my first port of call. This is when I had my first experience with Muay Thai, and went on to spend a month training at a gym in Chiang Mai. Reluctantly, I moved on to continue my travels elsewhere, but set a goal to come back and train more, and maybe fight.
After my trip, I made plans to head back to Thailand, this time to live, work and train on a long-term basis. I completed another month of Muay Thai training before becoming qualified as an ESL Teacher. Then, landed my first teaching job in Bangkok. My work schedule left me without much time to train, so In December 2012, I took some time out from teaching to spend three months focusing on Muay Thai. During that time, I had my first fight, and that changed everything. I spent the next 5 years training and fighting.
I had my last fight in 2017, but Muay Thai is still a huge part of my life. Thanks to this blog, I was able to build a career in the sport. I’ve worked for the Sports Authority of Thailand on the promotion of women’s Muay Thai, and in 2019, Decathlon Thailand invited me to work on their Muay Thai brand, Waikru. I’ve been working for Decathlon & Waikru as a Communications Manager ever since.
I’m still in love with Thailand, so I have no plans to leave. I’m thankful every day for the life that I have here, and the opportunities that Muay Thai has given me.
About Under the Ropes
I wanted to start practicing Muay Thai a long time before I did, but didn’t feel confident enough to do so. When I finally did, I found that navigating the sport as a woman was a complex and challenging experience. This blog was inspired by a desire to put something out there for the female Muay Thai community, to connect with other women in the sport, and to help anyone who might be in the same position that I was back then.
Under the Ropes began as a way to document my experiences as a female fighter living in Thailand. These experiences triggered my feminist awakening, and this site became a way for me to document the gender discrimination I saw and experienced in the sport. This included writing about my experience of sexual assault in a Muay Thai gym, which led me to dedicate myself to combatting rape culture. I later became an activist and public speaker, sharing my stories at the UN, UNWomen’s HeForShe University Tour, Bangkok’s first-ever Human Library, South-East Asia’s first gender equality summit Dragonfly360, and the British Embassy’s rape and sexual assault survivor handling conference for Thai police. In 2021, I was invited to develop my story for The Moth in a three-day storytelling workshop in partnership with UN Women. The previous year, I also held a Muay Thai class for survivors of gender-based violence. This was not a self-defense class (see: Why Self-Defense Classes Don’t Prevent Sexual Assault), but a way to use Muay Thai as a healing and confidence-building tool for those who’ve experienced trauma. Muay Thai has given me so much, and my goal has always been to extend the benefits that I’ve enjoyed to other women.
I’m not a champion, and could never call myself a great fighter, but I love Muay Thai. Muay Thai has given me my power, my voice, my purpose, and even my career. All of those things are far more valuable than any title I ever could have fought for.