Interview with Vivian Leung
Born and raised in Saskatoon, Canada. Of Chinese decent, rest of family originated
from Hong Kong, have 2 older brothers, graduated from University with a Bachelors of Pharmacy
Degree and Hospital pharmacy residency, currently working as a retail pharmacist.
hobbies: training -muay thai kickboxing (obviously), any outdoor activity really
classically trained pianist would like to play jazz piano in the future, wish I could play the cello
(favourite string instrument), love travelling, surfing (only done it a couple times but hooked after
catching and riding my first wave)- being nowhere close to water in the middle of Canada presents a
problem, enjoy live theatre and musical theatre, shopping (like most girls).
Goals: in Muay Thai- Continue to work towards the fighter I want to become. In the
I've far exceeded what I personally THOUGHT I could accomplish now it's a matter of how far
I can go. I have
absolutely nothing to lose.
Goals: in Life - Be thankful, enjoy and live every single day like it's your last, try everything, see the world
(as it's the best education you could ever get), face your fears and believe in yourself.
Goals: in other sports- finish a marathon, maybe a triathlon, perhaps get back into grappling, try
catching more waves on the surfboard
Fight Record: 13 - 3 - 1 -1 KO
1. What made you take up fighting? What motivates you?
I initially chose to take up kickboxing to participate in something different.
I basically grew up watching and being a huge fan of martial arts movies
and would be in awe of the stuff they were doing, all the flashy moves, jumps
and kicks. It just looked fun! It took one kickboxing class and was definitely
attached to the training. Actually getting into the ring and fighting was another
story, it took a while. Everyone who has known me since I stepped into my
first kickboxing class would know that I was the most "gun shy" person in the
world!!! I just look back and have to laugh. I've definitely come a very long way.
I decided to take up fighting as I find it very challenging. It challenges you
BOTH physically and mentally. In terms of competing, every contracted fight
brings about a unique situation and an entirely new set of challenges.
Personally, I've always found that the more challenges you put yourself up
against and the more obstacles you overcome, the more you learn and
grow as a person. When the training is finished and the fight is over,
the sense of accomplishment is just so rewarding.
What motivates me is the training leading up to the actual fight.
I absolutely enjoy and look forward to training. Training has never
been a chore for me. No matter how hard it gets I always end up having lots of fun.
2. So how long have you been training now?
I first started in kickboxing classes when I was finishing up my university degree.
My first fight was in year 2000 so in terms of training seriously, it has been at
least 8 years.
3. Do you have time to make friends outside of the gym, or does training and
fighting take up all your time?
Training and fighting does take up much of my time especially when it comes to
preparing for an upcoming fight. However, I'm a believer in having a very balanced
approach. I've managed to maintain a few separate circle of friends with different
interests other than fighting. My friends are very understanding when I seem distant
at times, as they realize that I'm focusing on training. When I think about it, I have
more friends outside of the gym than in the gym. When I'm in the gym, I'm there to
focus on training more than anything else.
4. What is your training schedule like?
I usually train 6 days a week. I schedule my training around my work schedule
which changes from week to week. In general, my training consists of many
early mornings as that's the only time I can train consistently. In the mornings
i generally work independently focusing on interval training, whether it be
sprinting, jumping rope or training on the heavy bag. The rest is the usual,
thai pad training, technique, and sparring.
5. Do marathons help you with your conditioning? Or is just something you
do for competition or enjoyment?
I've actually never trained for or have participated in a marathon. My brother is
the marathon runner in the family. It's just something I thought would be really challenging
and i'd try someday. Running a marathon requires a totally different and separate
system of training compared to fighting. I really don't see them as too compatible.
I'll probably leave the marathon running to my brother until I get fighting out of my system.
6. Do you have any other martial arts experience or training?
I took a couple years of grappling before I started competing in the ring for kickboxing.
7. When was your first fight?
My first fight was year 2000.
8. What do you remember most about that fight? And what would you do
differently in that fight if you could do it over?
The memory that really stands out in my mind regarding my first fight was how incredibly
nervous I was leading up to the fight. I even admitted it to my opponent during weigh-ins.
I was the third fight of the evening but I was nervous thru my warm-up and even walking
up to the ring. However, once I got into the corner and the fight was about to start, the
nervousness suddenly escaped and I was completely focused and ready to go. It was
the most strange yet amazing feeling!!!
9. Have you ever been emotionally distracted by personal matters before a fight?
And if so, how did you deal with that?
Yes, I have been emotionally distracted by issues pertaining to my personal life before
a fight. The worst is when it distracts you thru the training. It's now a running joke for me
that if something "doesn't" go wrong before a fight...it's bad luck!! On a serious note,
I've had to deal with this before my last two fights. Two of my family members had been
diagnosed with cancer before each fight. Before my last fight, while I was trying to train
and prepare, my brother was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer and was undergoing
combination, radiation and chemotherapy. It was the hardest thing I've had to overcome
thus far! The hardest part was trying to get focused and stay focused on training. I felt
constantly emotionally and physically drained. I'm usually really good at checking my
personal life at the door before training but I had a few very emotional days at the gym.
In terms of dealing with the whole situation, no matter how hard, I decided to try to keep
things separate. I train and compete because it makes me happy. I don't have many
opportunities to compete so I just had to do it for myself no matter what. At the time
this was all happening, it was unbelievably difficult, but when I look back now, training
actually helped me thru the whole ordeal. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise. God
works in mysterious ways and you just have to try to keep things separate, have faith and
deal with the situation the best you can.
10. How does your family feel about you fighting?
I have to admit my family was in the dark about me fighting at all, until my third fight.
I had to finally tell them, as my picture and an article was going to be in the local newspaper
promoting our gym's upcoming promotion. My brothers thought it was cool that I was
fighting but my parents weren't too impressed. I understand, they just didn't want to see
their baby girl get hurt. As the years have gone by, my parents realize how hard I train,
how much I love the sport , how well my coach prepares me for my fights and they've just
learned to accept it. I guess they have grown to be big supporters.
11. Do they ever attend your fights?
My two brothers have never been able to attend my fights yet, but my parents have
come out to support me. I've always had to travel to compete so it makes things a
little more difficult. A few of my friends find it more entertaining to watch my parents-especially
my mom- when I'm fighting than me in the ring. It doesn't matter if everyone else in the crowd
is sitting in their seats watching the fight. She'll have
a front row seat, actually stand up and frantically cheer when I'm fighting. In between rounds, she'll
take a break and sit down as well. When the fight commences, she stands up again!!
12. You've fought Oriental rules, international rules, and Muay Thai rules. Which do you prefer?
It's true that I've competed under a variety of rules but the one I prefer is Muay Thai rules.
The more weapons you introduce into the rules, the more complex the sport becomes
and the more unpredictable it becomes.
13. What is your ideal weight range for fighting?
My ideal fight weight at this point in time is 118lbs - 120lbs.
14. What is your favourite Technique?
I really don't have one technique that I like the most. I enjoy all of them. I guess my
favourite technique would be the one that I'm trying to improve upon at the moment.
During training sessions leading up to a fight, we usually work on one new specialty
technique for that specific fight. It makes training more enjoyable and it also keeps
my fighting style in the ring unpredictable and dynamic.
15. You mentioned something about getting back into grappling. Can you elaborate on that?
Have you ever wrestled in high school, or fought MMA?
As I mentioned previously, I took a couple years of grappling before I started competing in
kickboxing. I found grappling really fun and challenging but just didn't have the time to keep
up both at the same time. Once I started fighting, much of my time was devoted to mauy thai.
I'd really like to get back into grappling if I had the time. In terms of competing in MMA,
I've been asked but I'd like to focus on Muaythai for now.
I train with a very successful MMA team on a regular basis. If I decide to compete in MMA
in the future, I will have more than enough support and experience to help me in the transition.
16. Do you ever perform a Ram Muay before a fight? Why or why not?
I never have performed a Ram Muay before a fight. I started competing in the sport under
kickboxing rules and more recently muaythai rules. The Ram Muay has not been a focus of
mine, I understand the tradition and respect my opponents that do it. I personally just want
to get to the fight.
17. What do you think of the Ram Muay? Do you like to do it before your
fights outside of or Thailand? Or would you prefer not to perform it
in front of western audiences?
I personally have no problems at all if fighters chose to perform a Ram Muay or not.
I find them rather interesting to watch as they are all unique. There are many spectators
or audiences of muay thai that do not understand the tradition behind the Ram Muay
therefore may not accept it. My last opponent, Jenypher Lantheir decided to perform a
Ram Muay before our fight and I had no problems with it at all. However, due to a number
of factors, it did seem that the audience was getting impatient. I think it really comes down
to the education of spectators. I know some fighters have elected to perform an abbreviated
version of the Ram Muay.
18. You have a lot of wins but not many kos. But, in your last two
fights you aggressively jumped on your opponents very quickly and never
really let then get into their rhythm or into the fight.
Is this a deliberate change in strategy in the way you fight?
Or was this just the way you thought was best to fight these two particular
I have always been known to have an aggressive fighting style so it wasn't really a
deliberate change in strategy in the way I fight. If you look into my fight history, I used
to fight in heavier weight classes. I am now fighting at a weight that better suits my body type.
19. In the last couple of years there have been several instances where a
woman fighter agreed to fight a male challenger or opponent. In each case
(except for one) the woman won the fight. Fighters who have fought men
include Asako Saioka, Sunshine Fettkether, Takako Shimoseki, Sachiyo
Shibata, Kyoko Kamikaze, Melita Carnavas, Kim Messer, Irma Verhoef, and
Lucia Rijker. And just recently Ilonka Elmont reportedly fought a man in
Holland in one of these exhibitions fights.
I understand those fights are rather common in Thailand. What is your
feeling about those fights? Are there some extenuating circumstances
where such a fight might be justified in your opinion?
In my opinion, it depends on the fighter. I have no problems with women
fighting men. If a contract is signed and agreed upon by both parties, then it's fine.
These fights may be accepted and common in Thailand, but I'm not too sure of
it's acceptance in other locales. I suppose spectators are used to watching people
competing amongst their own gender. For example, boxing, wrestling, Taekwan-do,
MMA, judo..etc.. As a result, I think it just depends on the comfort level of the competitor
and social acceptability.
20. Who would you say was your toughest opponent to date?
My toughest opponent would be a fighter by the name of Kim Delesoy from Regina,
Canada that I competed against to win the Canadian 2001 WKA Super featherweight
Golden Gloves Title.
21. What made her so tough?
I chose Kim as my toughest opponent as she was physically very strong, she fought
as a south paw and personally, since I started training, I've always admired her.
Everyone who knows Kim, sees her as a genuine woman, a great ambassador to
martial arts and very skilled.
I found it hard to fight Kim as I've always saw her as my role model. I was
honoured to step in the ring with her and never thought I would win the fight.
What made this fight so difficult was the fact that I entered the ring believing that
I was not at the same level as her. It was a mental challenge that I had to overcome.
22. What was your biggest disappointment to date?
I can honestly say that I haven't had any big disappointments. Sure I've lost some
fights and believed that I could have performed a little better at times even in my wins.
However, I'm a great believer in training. I believe that training is the hardest part of
competing. If you've trained properly, once the training is complete, the actual fight
in the ring is the easy part. If you've trained 110% and really believe that you've put your
heart and soul into the training, no matter what, you should never be disappointed.
I accept the fact that anything can happen during fight night, simply believe in yourself,
your trainer and enjoy the whole experience.
23. What has been your most satisfying accomplishment to date?
My most satisfying accomplishment to date would be getting as far as I have in the sport,
fighting out of a small city in the middle of Canada. I could have never done it without the
support of my trainer, Troy Scheer, my team-mates and of course the support of my family.
I started competing under kickboxing rules and never thought I would eventually end up
competing in full muay thai rules. I've far exceed all my goals, now it's a matter of how far
I can get and hopefully see how I compare to fighters internationally.
24. Do you prefer to KO your opponents or do you prefer to slowly pick them apart and
showcase your skills and technique?
I really have no preference. It's great to KO your opponents but it's also
great to showcase
your skills and techniques as well. It'd be nice to do a bit of both to mix things up and keep
your opponent and audience guessing.
25. I am going to mention a few names, and I want you to tell me the first thing that comes
into your mind, when you think of these persons? What do you remember most about each
of these opponents?
a. Sandra Bastian?
When I think of Sandra, I think of patience and composure. Our bout ended early with a bit
of controversy and the fight was ruled "no contest". It would have been interesting to see how
the fight would have progressed if it had continued. My original fight match-up for the event
was cancelled, it was my first modified muay thai fight and I had been training really hard.
Both Sandra and I actually fight in different weight classes. I had to move up in weight and
Sandra came down in weight for this fight. I remember stepping on the scale wearing my
winter coat and boots. A rematch was doubtful.
b. Emily Beardon?
Emily Beardon reminds me of an athlete who enjoys competing strictly for the love of the sport.
She fights with a lot of heart and is relentless. Emily's nose started bleeding profusely during
the early rounds of our fight and was asked repeated if she wanted to continue. She fought
aggressively and stuck it out until the end.
c. Jennypher Lantheir?
I think of the saying, " If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Everyone who has spoken
to Jenypher outside the ring would agree that she is a really nice person and just wants to
promote the sport of mauy thai.
d. Lynda Loyce
I first met Lynda outside of the ring in San Francisco at the Fairtex gym. I had an opportunity
to train with Lynda for about a week. I was really excited when Lynda and I were matched up
a couple years later for a fight in Las Vegas. I had a lot of "firsts" with this match-up. I was
coming off a long lay-off from competition, my first fight in the USA, my first no gear fight, and my
first fight under full muay thai rules. I lost the decision with this fight but I never remembered having
so much fun competing. I was just happy to get back into the ring.
e. Trisha Sammons?
A fellow Canadian competitor in which I have something in common. trouble finding opponents.
Similar to the scenario with Sandra Bastien, Trisha and I are really in separate weight classes.
Since we both were having difficulties finding opponents and were coming off of long lay-offs,
we agreed to fight each other. Trisha agreed to lose weight and I agreed to gain. Another
gal who competes for the sake of the sport.
f. Who in your opinion is the best female fighter in North America?
Out of the current active fighters in North America, I don't see one specific fighter.
There aren't enough promotions and female fighters who are actively and consistently
competing in North America or abroad for there to be any one dominant fighter.
I agree that there are many great female fighters and up and coming fighters in North
America but we need more opportunities to compete overseas or abroad to showcase
our skills and talent.
26. Is there any particular female fighter that you especially admire? And if so, why?
I believe I answered this question previously. Kim Delsoy doesn't compete anymore
but continues to teach martial arts. I will always look up to her as I've looked up to her
since I first started kickboxing. I admire her, for her skills in the ring and mostly her
27. Who would you like to fight next? And under what set of rules?
I would like to fight Windy Tomoni who is ranked above me in 4th place
(in the WIKBA January 2006 Ratings) under full muay thai rules. I have heard a lot of great
things about Windy. I think it would be an excellent experience and the ultimate challenge
to fight on her home ground.
28. Are there any previous opponents you would really like to rematch?
I'm rather content with the final outcome of all my fights but it would be nice to rematch
Lynda Loyce. However, the last I heard she has no intentions of turning professional.
I am also fighting in my prefered weight class and do not see myself moving back up
nor do I see her moving down.
29. Would you like to fight Lisa King?
This is an interesting question as I was one of Lisa's sparring partners for one of her
fights in 2004. I was doing some training in Las Vegas while she was training for her
fight and we ended up working together. I remember sharing a few laughs with her
during training. For this fight to materialize Lisa would have to turn professional and
we would have to come up with a contracted weight. If these conditions can be met,
30. What about Kate Meehan?
Since Kate and I are both professional and fight at a similar weight, this match up
would be more likely than with Lisa King. As an amateur, I had always wanted to
compete against Kate but then she turned professional. Now that I am professional,
I'm taking it as a second chance. I've always wanted to compete against Kate as we
are both very aggressive fighters. I think it'd be a very challenging and entertaining fight.
In my opinion, any promoter should be very happy with this match-up.
31. Do you know who are you fighting next?
No, I'm not sure who I'll be fighting next. I am currently in the process of studying and
writing exams to further my pharmacy career. My next fight will not be until the fall of 2006.
Although I'm not competing at the moment, I continue to train, so regardless of who my
opponent will be, they'll have a tough fight on their hands.
32. Have you ever been knocked down, or really hurt or in trouble in a fight?
I have been very lucky in this area thus far. I hope the luck continues.
33. You seem to be very calm and not easily distracted or upset. Is there anything an
opponent could do or say that would really upset or anger you?
It's all about the poker face! If my opponent said something that really upset or angered me,
I probably wouldn't show it. I would choose not to feed their ego by outwardly showing
that they were emotionally affecting me. I would save it for the ring.
34. Do fighters who try to stare you down or trash talk to intimidate you before a fight
have any effect on you? How do you handle that?
I remember one of my opponents that tried to stare me down at weigh-ins and during
warm-up before our fight. I just ignored her and it didn't really affect me at all. I actually
found it funny and as a sign of weakness that gave me confidence. I know some fighters
enjoy the trash talking and stare downs before fights, it's just part of the sport, but you
better be ready to deliver in the ring.
35. Have you ever fought in Thailand and do you have any plans to train or fight in Thailand?
No, I've never had the opportunity to train or fight in Thailand. I think it would be an
excellent experience but it's difficult when you don't have sponsorship to travel afar.
It's rather expensive and I would have to pay for it myself. Perhaps sometime in the future.
36. Are there any foreign countries where you would be especially be interested in
going to fight?
Since I love to travel, I'd be happy traveling to Japan, Europe, actually any foreign
country to compete. I think I'd be a really great learning experience all around.
37. Would you be willing to travel to a far away place like Australia to fight?
For sure, I'd be willing to travel to Australia!
38. What do you think needs to be done to really get women's kickboxing and
Muay Thai really popular and moving again?
I think women just need to keep actively training and active in the
It would help greatly if there were more promotions so we can gain more experience,
become better fighters and perhaps one day there will be larger demand to see women
competing in the sport. The struggle that kickboxing and Muay thai face now is the
growing popularity of MMA.
39. What do you think about three minute rounds for women as well as men?
Do you think most women are physically capable fighting three minute rounds?
I personally have no problems with fighting 3 minutes rounds. It's just
or dimension that fighters will have to train and deal with in the ring. My last contracted
fight was for 3 minute rounds. I think most women are physically capable fighting longer
rounds.you simply have prepare and train for it.
40. Do you think that doing the same five three minute rounds as the men, would increase
respect for Women fighters?
Women have always been striving for equality in all areas in life, sometimes it brings about
increased respect and sometimes it doesn't. As I mentioned previously, I think women are
more than capable of fighting 3 minute rounds but it may not automatically grant women
fighters more respect. I think respect more so lies in the display of great fighting skill,
strength and stamina in the ring.
41. Do you think refs are too quick to stop a women's fight?
The refs that I have encountered have done a great job. We must keep in mind that the
refs are there on the behalf of the fighter.
42. Why should promoters book women fighters, and you in particular?
I think the most exciting fights to watch are close, well-matched women fights. We may not
have as many wins by knock-outs but there are more and more happening. Promoters
should book women fighters to give us more experience, so we can improve our skills and
become a threat in the international circuit.
Personally, I've gone a long ways since I started competing in kickboxing and now in mauy thai.
I haven't been given many consistent opportunities to compete and to showcase my talents.
Even with long lay-offs from competition in the past, with every opportunity and every fight, I
am continuing to improve in the sport.
Promoters that have booked me in the past know that I always give 110% in the ring and
have always provided an exciting and entertaining fight.
43. What would you like to say to your fans in closing?
I just want to say thank you to all my supporters.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to say, a special thank you to my trainer,
Troy Scheer, for his continued encouragement and making me the fighter that I am.
Thanks to all my team mates that have helped me prepare for my fights. Mauythai
can be seen as an individual sport but you definitely need a team approach to prepare.
Most of all thanks to my family and everyone I've met thru my travels in training and competing in Mauythai.
You haven't see the last or best of me yet.
Thanks to Vivian Leung for taking
here time to share her knowledge and experiences with us.