Welcome to another installment of our female fighter of the month.
This month takes us to Thailand via way of Ireland and England as we take a look at Irish powerhouse Kelly Creegan.
Kelly is 30 years old and currently residing in Thailand, living the dream of the many and reality of the few, training at the well renowned Sitmonchai gym in Kanchanaburi province.
Home to fighters such as Pornsanae Sitmonchai, Thepnimit Sitmonchai and Yodkunpun Sitmonchai, Kelly is training daily the hard way.
Sitmonchai, in comparison to other gyms in Thailand, hasn’t been training Westerners (or any foreigners) for very long and is such, still a traditional Thai gym in many ways.
Kelly was born in Dublin, Ireland but spent most of her childhood in Dunstable, UK.
Thai Boxing training began in 2006 when Kelly was 22 years old, starting off at Nak Soo gym. For the first year Kelly only trained once or twice a week and it wasn’t until moving back to Ireland in 2007, that Kelly began taking it more seriously after joining Bridgestone Muay Thai in Dublin.
Kelly’s initial reason for starting Muay Thai was due to working in a bar alongside two Doormen who were also professional fighters. Kelly was a sporty girl (at that time playing Rugby) and they encouraged her to try out a Thai boxing session, which she did and enjoyed from day one.
Four years after beginning her journey into Thai Boxing, Kelly had her first Amateur fight. Loosing on points, Kelly states ‘I lost on points and cried my eyes out, I felt humiliated with my performance’.
This didn’t put Kelly of trying it again though and she went on to have a further five fights in Ireland before heading to Thailand.
Kelly’s first fight in Thailand was in 2012 and was something of a surprise to her, stating ‘my first fight here in Thailand was a massive shock to me. After my amateur fight in Ireland I had five professional fights and five wins then came to Thailand in got knocked out by a fifteen-year-old Thai girl. A humbling experience to say the least. My confidence took a huge hit after that, not because of the loss but because of the KO, I was constantly worrying I had a glass jaw’
Not put off though, Kelly just dug deeper and worked harder. Anyone who has spent a fair amount of time training in Thailand will know its quite different to training here (in the UK). This isn’t because UK Thai boxing is less strict or disciplined, but our very reasons for training are completely different to the Thai people, where it is a way of being able to survive for many of the poorer people there.
Here, it is approached it at the most (professional fighters), as a large portion of their week and an important part of their lives. At the least, as a hobby to keep fit. Its very difficult to make a good living from Thai boxing in the west and our top A-class fighters will often have another job. Very rarely will fighting pay their bills. Training or fighting in Muay Thai just isn’t a necessity to eat and survive here in the UK the way it is for so many young fighters and their families in Thailand and the training in (most parts) of Thailand reflects this. If you are serious about fighting in Thailand, especially in and around Bangkok at a top level, then you have to be prepared to train as hard as the Thai fighters will train. It certainly isn’t for everyone and Kelly has had her fair share of uncertain moments.
Speaking about her training at Sitmonchai, Kelly states ‘ I have changed so much since coming here, as the style of fighting here is just so different to the western girls. I like to fight on my back foot a lot, which the Thai trainers don’t like at all. It’s very hard to try and relax here even though they expect you too. I felt rubbish at first here, being told daily that everything I was doing was wrong. It wasn’t wrong but it wasn’t how they wanted it. My trainer is Pornsanae Sitmonchai’s pad man, a man called Kru (teacher) Dam. He is an absolute stickler for technique. My first couple of weeks with him were very hard, but now I love learning from him and feel very privileged and lucky to do so’
Kelly is very comfortable living in Thailand and describes herself as a ‘much happier person here’ her only concern so far has been the food which in her own words has been ‘a touch and go experience’ this is again, something that regular visitors to Thailand will understand. The food, while being some of the tastiest in the world, can also find you spending an unnatural amount of time on your toilet!
Kelly’s family fully support her and are very proud of her, only when they see pictures of her injuries do they ever voice some concern.
There is no room for other hobbies in Kelly’s life at the moment with Muay Thai and teaching English taking up most of her time, but on the rare occasion Kelly can have some free time she states ‘I try to catch up with friends and eat. Eating is probably my favourite way of passing time’
As always, I like to ask our female fighters what their views and opinions are, on the current domestic and international female fight scene as it stands. Kelly states ‘the female fight scene and females training in Thai boxing in general, is getting bigger and better all the time. With regards to female fighters, there are now big fights on nearly every domestic promotion. I hope more Women continue to become interested in Thai Boxing. The pool of female fighters in Dublin is still fairly small but internationally it is much larger’
There is no one in particular Kelly has ambitions to fight; she will simply fight whoever is put in front of her. The weight category Kelly fights in (57-60kg) is a very busy and active category containing some of the worlds best. Kelly is finding the Thai girls that she fights are very clever technically and hope her Thai Boxing ‘IQ’ is increasing all the time. This will stand her in good stead for when she does eventually return to these shores and faces off against fighters here.
Kelly has secured a teaching position in a school close to Sitmonchai so her plans for the future are to stay in Thailand for least for the next year and to gain as much experience as possible from both fighting here and learning skills the Thai way from the wealth of talent surrounding her every day.
Kelly Creegan fight stats:
Weight at present – 58/59kg
Fight name – Panda
Total fights – 14
Win – 8
Losses - 7
To check out the Boon Thai Boxing Equipment
Kelly is using on the image please click here