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Interview with

Mappella Lehtonen

1. Tell us something about yourself, and how you got started with Muay Thai.

     A:: I am .21 year old. will be 22 years on 13th of june, 2003
. In the small town where I was born, I started at seven years old with Karate, After they opened a new "fighting factory" which was a renovated old factory they started to teach other fighting sports there too. One of those was Muay Thai. When I moved to our capital Helsinki, it was much easier to "be interested" in MuayThai; then I just had to choose the best club between several good ones and that I did

2.Who are some your heroes?

      A: I don't actually have that.. but if i have to name someone, i say my coach, Petri Martinez, has been my driving inspiration. and at least he is the one reason why i'm still training and why i ever started to fight.

3. What are your immediate goals?

     A: Short time goal would be rehabilitate my knee (which was broken in the World Cup finals in Bankok, and had to operated after that). Its always hard mentally when you are at the top of your game and then you get injured.. Secondly; when my knee is strong enough again I wanna get back in a fighting shape and mostly back in a very very strong training shape.

 My long time goal is to be one of the best in world with all the hard ones.

4. .Have you ever been forced to use your fighting skills in self defense?

Gladly I haven't had to face a situation where I would have been forced to use my fighting skills on the street. But if someone would attack my love one, seriously I wouldn't care how many years of hard work I would have behind me as a fighter, I wouldn't be a bystander and even a fighter has a right to defend herself by using her common sense. If you are protecting yourself no one should have the right to question that, much less punish you from wanting to stay untouched.

5. What made you take up fighting?

A:    I trained about one and a half year before I even started to think about fighting. But once my coach told me there was coming a womenís Finish championships and I should go and try what I can do Ė I lost my first trial : ) but it gave me a strong will to try againÖ

6. So how long have you been training now?

A:   Iíve been training since 1998, but first years I also played football and it was my number one sport until 2000

7. What is your training schedule like?

A:   Monday to Saturday morning run and trainings from 17 to 20. on Sundays I just rest.

I have to be fit long before the fight so when there's just two weeks left before the fight I just have last hard trainings and cool down about a week before fight, just training bit easier and trying to let my body to get enough rest. polishing training is just pacify your mind and concentrating to fight.. that's it. ones again, sorry about my broken English, its been too long since been studying English :)

8. When was your first fight? And how old were you?

     A:     It was 24.02.2001 and I was 20 years old.

9. What do you remember most about that fight?

  A:   I made lot of push kicks and my opponent got a nosebleed.

10. What would you do differently in that fight if you could do it over?

     A:   Nothing, it was a great fight to be the first one!

11. What is your favourite technique?

     A:   Elbows, though Iím maybe even too keen trying to use them at every turnÖ

12. Who would you like to fight next? And under what set of rules?

     A:   Now after 7months fighting break Ė had a knee operation Ė I just canít dream of top fights for a while. Now I just need a lot of fights to get the routine back.       

13. Who would you say was your toughest opponent to date?

     A:   Julia Khalturina (Russian) at the World championships final in March 2003. In that fight I injured my knee and even without that it was one of the hardest fight Iíve had  - - though we had the paddings on (it was a tournament).

14. What made her so tough?

    A:  Julia is very experienced fighter! She was a good puncher and also was strong in grappling though she has taken boxing and KB fights more than MT, I think she isnít unbeatable, but in that fight she was stronger than me.

15. You fought Laura Skinner at the Kings Cup in Thailand . Can you tell us something about that fight?

     A:   That fight was over a year ago, and it is only a one fight among the others. But it was really good fight, in the ring there was two strong-willed fighters who did their best that day. I think itís one of the best womenís amateur fights ever, there was no mercy.

16. Was Laura a hard fight for you,? Or was it easier than you expected?

     A:  Well, she wasnít too hard for me Ė I did beat her. I didnít wait anything for that fight - actually when I prepared for the fight, I didnít know anything about Laura. Not until much later did I learn that she is very hard fighter.

17. How do you feel about fighting her again without the pads and head
gear, if you had the chance?

    A:  Sure, Iíd like to fight her again, because I still think she is one of the best women fighters in the world. So lets see, when Iím in a good form again, we could take a rematch Ė and of course with pro rules, without pads! Pads are ok in tournaments, but in Muay Thai there is only one way to see who is the best and itís when you are fighting without pads, using also your strongest weapons: knees and elbows..

 18. Which fight was your most satisfying win, and why?
     A: I think it was the fight in Finland , Helsinki Ė my home town Ė last January (2003) when I was fighting France girl Say Tevi. It was without pads, with elbows and knees. What made it so great win for me was that it was the first time for years I was fighting in Finland , in front of my family, friends and supports.

19. what fight was your biggest disappointment and why?

    A:  It was the fight in last World Championships (amateur) - the same fight where my knee broke down. I really was fighting for winning and it was a big disappointment for me to lose that fight. I was there to win that tournament and because I couldnít do that then,  I gotta go there again, until I get the gold one.

20. is there anyone you would really like to rematch?

   A:  Iíd like to rematch all Iíve ones lost.

21. what was the most enjoyable womenís fight you have seen in
Thailand ? and why?

    A:  I havenít  seen so many womenís fight in Thailand, but last December/January when I was training in Koh Samui, I saw Amy Birch fighting some Thai girls Ė and those fights were just enjoyable to watch. Amy is also one of the hardest girl fighters Iíve seen. She trains hard and that really shows when she is in the ring. Her technique is so versatile.

22. Are there any foreign countries where you would be especially
interested in going to fight?
   A:  Iíd like to fight in Europe ; Holland , England and France   - there are lot of hard girls around. Also Iíd like to go to OZ, to fight Laura for example, or why not Julie Livet ; )

23. would you like to fight for a world title this coming year?

    A:  Letís not hurryÖ sure I want to fight for a world title some day, but like I said I still have to work a lot to get my self strong again, have some good fights in Finland first, then get back to the international rings.

24. What do you think about three minute rounds for women as well as

  A: Iím training every day with the best boys and girls from Finn and we train with three minutes rounds, so it would fit for me as well, maybe even better Ė Iím well-known for getting going kind of slowly Ė Iím such a diesel engine.

25. do you think refs are too quick to stop a women's fight?

  A:  I havenít seen they have been different in between womenís than menís Ė at least not here in Finn in our fight nights, we have great refs who doesnít see the difference between women or men. ( Though in Thailand  amateur World Cup 2002 there were some refs who really stopped fighting too quick, I think refs there were beginners)

26. why should promoters book women fighters? And YOU in particular??

 A:  There are lot of boring boys fighting at the top, promoters should book some interesting girl fighter instead of them - I rather watch an interesting/ hard womenís fight than sleep on the stands. I donít mean girls should get there easier, but hey ain't promoters also after money and people pay to see interesting fights and there are many girls who can also handle the show and make the fight entertaining

27. what would you like to say to your fans?

 A:   remember this: when you are not training some one else is training to kick your ass!

(No arguing with that.)

womenkickboxing.com would like to thank Mappella Lehtonen   for sharing with us. And  also, Dan Stone, who contributed significant
excerpts from  his conversations with Mappella.






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