Pahang girl punches through adversity to compete in Muay Thai world championships
KUALA LUMPUR : Meet 23-year-old Nur Athirah Bidin, one of Malaysia’s rising female Muay Thai athletes.
Despite starting out in 2015, the diminutive 5’1” girl has already garnered an impressive 16 wins out of 18 tournaments.
Athirah, who briefly learned silat in her secondary school years, said her heart is set on Thailand’s popular national sport – uniquely referred to as the art of eight limbs since it focuses on eight points of contact – the fists, elbows, knees, and feet.
“Since I was a kid, I was (quite) boyish and preferred outdoor activities − playing football and all that. Although I never took up boxing or Muay Thai before this, I did learn silat a bit,” she said.
“When I was 17, a friend of mine at school told me that there was new Muay Thai gym opening nearby my house. That’s when I got curious (about Muay Thai) and fell in love with it after I decided to join the gym.
“Since then, I started participating in competitions. Usually, if I fight, my weight is in the lightest category − around 42-45kg. It’s really hard for me to gain weight.”
Generally known as a male-dominated combat sport, Athirah remains steadfast and aims to be the best Muay Thai athlete − and someday − the best coach in the country.
The Pahang-born, who was a bronze medallist in the Malaysian Games (SUKMA), said she is immune to comments about her being a girl involved in such a rugged sport.
“Some people do ask me that, why Muay Thai? It’s a rough thing, not so good for girls like you.
“For me, it’s normal (to hear that) because whatever we do, people will judge, especially in this type of thing, when they say it’s (a sport) mostly for men.
“But I think we have to prove that girls can do it too. It’s not only for men. I don’t think there is any perception that says martial arts is only for men,” she added.
Athirah has been chosen by the Malaysian Muaythai Federation to represent the country in this year’s International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA) – the official governing body for amateur and professional Muay Thai and Muay Boran martial arts − Youth and Senior World Championships in Phuket, Thailand on December 3-12.
“This is what I love. So, having this opportunity (to compete in the world championships) is big for me.
“I’m very nervous but very excited and happy at the same time. All I can say is I will try my best and I really want to win gold,” she said.
In preparation for the world championships, Athirah − who will compete in the women’s 45kg category − has decided to come under the tutelage of Fitness Champ − Malaysia’s first all-female MMA studio − led by coach Kal Rejab.
“What I always tell myself is I’m the strongest. No matter what people do or say to me, nothing can bring me down. I have to always get up and prove that I can do this, not (prove) to people, but (prove) to myself first,” she said.
As a former national Muay Thai athlete, Athirah is not funded by the government or entitled for monetary support from the National Sports Council.
In order to finance her qualification for the upcoming world championships, the resilient fighter has set up a crowdfunding initiative to acquire the required RM20,000.
If you wish to help Athirah achieve her goal, you may channel your donation through Fitness Champ via their CIMB bank account numbered 8010337595 or by contact their administration at 019-223 2550.
By : JULIE JALALUDDIN – THE VIBES