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Meet Naomi Ridley - FFOTM

Welcome to this months FFOTM.
I want to pay some attention to up and coming fighters over the next couple of months. Those Women who are taking their first steps into the world of competitive Thai Boxing.
Where better to start than with the latest female recruit from Bad Company Thai Boxing in Leeds.
Meet Naomi Ridley and remember her name.
MB) Hi Naomi, lets start with your hometown, your age now and your age when you began Thai boxing?
NR) I’m 23 years old and I am from Yeadon/Guiseley on the outskirts of Leeds. I was 21 when I began training in Thai Boxing in 2012.

Why Muay Thai?
NR) I used to play football but I wasn’t enjoying it anymore and wanted to try something new, a new challenge.
Two of my friends were doing private lessons with someone called Liam Harrison at Bad Company Thai boxing in Leeds and had been for quite a long time, so I asked if I could join them the next time they went to train with him. It all started from there. Richard Smith the owner of Bad Co and his Wife Lisa Houghton-Smith were also advertising for a 6 week beginners ‘kick start’ course so I signed up for that first then started to join in the regular classes.

What made you begin to think about competing?
NR) After roughly a year of training Liam asked if I wanted to compete and I said yes.
I’d been to watch a few Muay Thai shows by that point and wanted to see what it was like myself stepping in there to fight.
I had my first fight on a show that Liam co-promotes, called HGH Promotions in Leeds. I was 22 then.

Did you know much about Bad Company before you started training there?
NR) I had absolutely no idea who or what Bad Company was, I just knew it was a place where my friends trained some sort of Combat sport. It was all very, very new to me.
As my training progressed however, and I went to watch more Thai boxing shows, I realized that I was actually training at one of the best gyms in the World.

You are certainly in good company when it comes to stable mates. Training amidst fighters like Liam Harrison, Jordan Watson, James France, Lisa Houghton-Smith to name a few. How has this impacted your own training? It must be very motivating?
NR) All of the fighters at Bad Co are top quality and I am so lucky to able to train with them. I do a lot of private lessons with Liam and also James. They can be cruel to be kind at times but this is necessary at their level and I appreciate it. I learn so much from them.
Watching people like Liam, Jordan, James, Davy train and fight on the big stages pushes you to keep learning, its like being at a top University surrounded by the best in the field – you learn and learn daily.

What do you particularly enjoy about training there?
NR) It isn’t the same as a lot of other gyms, there are a lot of different teaching styles in play at Bad Co. Everyone has their own style and their own way but it all works together.
It’s good to be absolutely blasted to pieces on the pads by some people and still learn a heck of a lot doing so but then it’s nice have a pad session with other people where things are broken down more and you can think more about your technique, foot work and balance.
I love all the regular classes too and I love to spar, getting punched by guys seems to be my latest hobby…

How much time have you spent training in Thailand and where?
NR) I went to Thailand for the very first time in May 2013 and spent time at Jitti Gym in Ratchadaphisek (Bangkok) and Por Promin (Hua Hin) Most of my time at Jitti Gym however, was spent near a toilet. I think I ate something that didn’t agree with me!
Thoughts on training in Thailand?
NR) Training in Thailand has definitely assisted in helping my technique. The first thing I spoke about with Kru Kin at Por Promin was to help me with my movement and footwork. He made everything look easy as the Thai’s do, but it helped me think about where my feet are more instead of being off balance on occasions.

What do your family and friends think about Thai boxing?
NR) My Mum and Dad think that I’m mad and so do most of my friends!
My Mum came to my first fight and I don’t think she wants to come to another one. My grandma loves coming along though. It’s an enjoyable day out for her watching the show and cheering me on. She doesn’t stay till the end as it gets a bit late but she’s been to both of my fights and is constantly asking when the next one is. After my first fight she asked why couldn’t I have been a ballerina instead? I couldn’t stop laughing.

What do you do outside of Thai Boxing? What line of work or study are you in?
NR) I work for my parents company. We manufacture and sell recycling equipment, for example if you crash your car and it’s no longer usable then we sell the machinery to crush and recycle the cars.

What are your hobbies, the other things that interest you in life?
NR) Quad bike racing and 4 x 4 off road racing! I used to race quad bikes when I was 17 and I started driving rally cars at the age of 19 and still compete from time to time; it’s just very hard to fit everything in alongside training Muay Thai.

Views on the current UK female Thai boxing scene?
NR) I think the Thai Boxing scene in general for females in the UK is growing and with girls like Iman Barlow leading the way for the UK females, its certainly becoming a bigger pool of fish. Thai Boxing isn’t just for fighters though; it’s such a rewarding sport for any Women to become involved with. There are so many benefits, not least fitness and self-confidence.

What fights do you have in the pipeline?
NR) My next fight will be after September. I have a lot of exhibitions to attend for work at the moment and the last major one is September. Once that is out of the way I can focus completely on fighting again.

Who inspires you in the sport? Who makes you feel like this is what you want to do?
NR) Liam Harrison.
He is an amazing fighter and has fought some of the toughest people in the sport, not just domestically over the years but all of the top Thai’s at his weight too. It is a privilege to watch him train and to watch him fight.

Plans for the future?
NR) I would like to have a couple of fights this year and then I’m hoping very much to go back to Thailand next April so we shall see what happens out there…

Naomi Ridley fight stats Thai Boxing
Weight 67 - 68
Total fights 2
Win 1
Loss 1
Draw 0

Pictures courtesy of Jenni Whiteley Photography
For more information on training at Bad Company Thai Boxing please visit their website. All feature links below.

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