Muay Thai is a daily dream and challenge

Christina Belasco has been documenting women’s amateur Muay Thai fighter, Jeannie Nguyen for a month in preparation for her first international fight in Tulum, Mexico. Jeannie decisively won this fight by TKO in the second round. The California based fighter has a record of 10-3 and quit her full time day job earlier this year to focus all her efforts on turning pro. She trains and is a coach at the Thai Boxing Institute in Mar Vista, Los Angeles. This reportage is a dive into her life.

5pm in Tulum, and the sky filled with golden side light as the sun started to set. The air was thick and tropical as Rumble in The Jungle began as the first fighters stepped through the ropes into the ring. Jeannie Nguyen was one of such fighters on this day. She is an amateur women’s Muay Thai fighter who traveled to Tulum taking part in the event for her first international fight.

Muay Thai is a striking art that utilizes kicks, knees, punches, elbows, and clinching, which is why it is referred to as the art of eight limbs. The art originated in Thailand dating back to the Sukhothai dynasty in the 13th century and has a culture that is steeped in Buddhist tradition and lore.

At first glance Muay Thai may seem a vicious combat sport, but the deeper you come to know the culture the more you realize how intimate the endeavor truly is. Moments leading up to the fight are a quiet intensity that builds to a roar. A sharp focus and willpower that calls for the deepest of gut checks. A beautiful dance, that yes, is also brutal, filled with rhythm, power, and flow.

Jeannie spoke to me about her perspective of fighting from a place of abundance within, and how important it is to enter the ring pure of heart. “It’s all about gratitude and celebrating where you are in your own fight journey. It’s not about proving yourself or having the biggest ego or any negative emotion.”

It is certain that this mentality not only fosters respect for her opponents, but also a clear mind and inner confidence that helps her to perform better. “The best feeling is when you’re able to achieve a flow state in the ring. You’re not panicking, you’re focused, analytical, and able to use all of your weapons,” said Jeannie.

She won her fight in Tulum by TKO in the second round, and dominated the fight with her clinch. Her record is now 10-3, and she plans to compete next in Phoenix, Arizona at the US Muay Thai Open Championships.

Ph & text by Christina Belasco
IG @belascophoto
Atlhete Jeannie Nguyen
IG @jeanjeanjeannie