Women exercise right to fight in Singapore

Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:34am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Peter Rutherford

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Jeet Toshi's eyes glaze over as the blood flow to her brain begins to slow. She claws at the arm clamped around her throat but Nicole Chua's choke is sapping her strength, and the rising panic in Toshi's chest tells her she will black out in seconds.

Brutality is blind to gender in mixed martial arts (MMA).

While abhorred by its critics as a celebration of violence, MMA's explosive growth shows no signs of tapering off. It does not shy away from its violent image but rather embraces it as the ultimate sporting evolution of hand-to-hand combat.

Male fighters enjoy the lion's share of exposure and reward, and while women's MMA does have a following, it struggles due to a shallow talent pool and poor financial backing.

Discrimination has also been difficult to overcome, and while the bias may be based on outdated notions of gender roles in society, some people just are not ready to see women fight.

Not so in Singapore, it seems.

Some 8,000 fans watched Chua become the city-state's first female professional MMA fighter with her debut as part of ONE Fighting Championship's recent "War of the Lions" event.

What Chua and Toshi lacked in polished talent and experience they made up for in heart, battering each other with kicks, knees and punches before Chua took the fight to the ground.   Continued...

Referee declares Singapore's Nicole Chua (L) as winner as after she defeated India's Jeet Toshi in their One Fighting Championship (FC) mixed martial arts (MMA) fight at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in this March 31, 2012, file photo. REUTERS/Tim Chong/Files