Italy’s Miriam Sabot (Miriam Muay Farang) is the current Z1 56kg Female Champion. In one of the most anticipated fights at the 8th edition of the Z1 Royal Cup, she defeated defending champion Germany’s Dilara Yildiz for the belt on December 4 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
You have definitely earned yourself a great number of fans after the Z1 fight. Tell us something about yourself.
I am 34 years old. I have had 32 fights in total, including my first 4 amateur fights. I have competed in both Muay Thai and K1 fights before. My record for fights with full Muay Thai rules is 9 wins (4 KOs) and 8 losses. For fights with K1 rules, my record stands at 10 wins (1 KO) and 1 draw.
I first started Muay Thai training in Italy in 2006. I trained at Team Satori in Gorizia, Italy, the same gym which produced Giorgio and Armen Petrosyan. I had my first fight after 2 years.
You have lived in Thailand for a couple of years now. Tell me about your life in Thailand.
I am based in Chiang Mai, at Hongthong Muay Thai Gym. I came here in February 2014, moving from Italy because I changed jobs. I work here in Chiang Mai in a call center as a customer care agent.
The training is good, but I have to train mostly in the morning (because I work on European time) and my body does not respond as well in the afternoon. Thus, I can train only once a day.
In one training session I try to do everything I need to do. I always start with a run (around 4km, and if I have to lose weight, I run 8km), and then skip for 10 to 15 minutes. I usually do some exercises to warm up all the muscles, and a bit of stretching, especially for my hips and legs. Then I shadow box for 3 rounds of 3 minutes and I use the break between the rounds to do some conditioning exercises.
My trainers give me 4 to 5 rounds of pad work and they let me do speed work for the last round. That means that I have to kick and punch as many times and as fast as I can. After the pad work, the routine differs daily. I can be sparring, clinching or doing bag work, sometimes even everything! At the end of every session, I do 200 knees and 100 frontal kicks on the bag, and about 300 sit-ups (in various ways).
I am a paying student at the gym where I train. As such, I am neither a sponsored fighter nor do I have a contract with anyone. For the Z1 fight, I have been promoted by Muay Farang because Sitjemem Gym asked me if I was available for the fight. I am basically a free agent.
Tell me about your Z1 fight this time. Was there anything memorable or special about it?
I remember that I stepped into the ring feeling very relaxed and confident. I was very focused and I think the key to my victory was my corner. I was just listening to my cornermen’s instructions and trying to hit my opponent hard.
After the first round, I came back to my corner and I felt in super shape. I remember that I was also smiling and laughing.
I don’t think there is anything such as an easy fight, but I do think that sometimes, the state of your mind can make things easier.
In any case, I think I made many mistakes and I hope to watch my fight video soon in order to understand what I have to improve.
How did you prepare for the Z1 fight? Was there anything different you worked on for this fight in particular?
I did not do any special training. I watched some videos of my opponent’s fights and I was pretty sure that she would come to attack me aggressively. Thus, I tried to work on doing more sidesteps, even in training. The truth is that you could have your own strategy and being prepared for that, but when you are in the ring, it’s not that simple.
What are your plans following this Z1 fight? Any other fights coming up soon?
I don’t have any scheduled fights as of now. I will go back to Italy to visit my family whom I have not seen for almost 2 years. I will be back in Thailand on 10th January and I will be ready for new challenges.
Please share some advice you have for people training in Muay Thai, or for those who want to train in Thailand.
I love this sport. I made, and still am making many sacrifices for it. This Z1 belt is the first title I won after 9 years of hard training. I have to say that if you love Muay Thai, just keep going, be focused, and don’t give up even when you lose or when you feel terribly tired.
At the end of the day, it is just a matter of passion; no sacrifice is too big when you are doing something that makes you smile in joy!
Training Muay Thai in Thailand is becoming more and more of a trend. There are many people who come to Thailand, and think that they are great fighters after one month of training. Muay Thai is an ancient martial art and I still have so much work to do in terms of learning and improving on my techniques.
For those who want to come and train in Thailand, take your time to learn. Try to be humble and listen to every instruction and suggestion the Kru gives you. And work harder and harder every day, in spite of your sore muscles and the tiredness.
Photo credits: Z1 International and Miriam Sabot
Rachel Lee first came to South Korea in 2011, intending only to visit a Korean fighter she had met at a Muay Thai gym in Thailand earlier that year. With her month-long visit sprawling into a four-year sojourn, she has since gotten engaged to the Korean fighter, and is currently running a Muay Thai gym with him in Seoul. A traveler and explorer at heart, she frequently finds herself treading precariously between ambition and reality.