January 01, 2019
Successful women pave the way for the women who come after them. As a female in this day and age, Martial Arts has never been easier to get involved with, including both training and competition. It can be easy to forget that there was once a time where women fighting in combat sports was deemed unacceptable. We have many women to thank who paved that pathway for us who have the equal opportunity that we have today. Stephanie Curtis is one of those that paved the way for women in combat sports. Read about her journey below.
By Stephanie Bloomfield
I was first introduced to martial arts at the age of thirteen, where I began Taekwondo. Developing a passion for sparring, I competed regularly and soon progressed to a Black Belt level. Over the short duration of a few years, I won several State and National titles within the sport.
Following my success in Taekwondo, I was introduced to Jeet KunDo by Nino Pilla, where I soon began making regular trips to Los Angeles to train and learn from Dan Inosanto, a former student of the late Bruce Lee. During this period of time I was also introduced to Muay Thai, where I instantly fell in love with this style after meeting Ajarn Chai Sirisute.
After being exposed to Women’s kickboxing in America, I began to develop the motivation to compete. Despite being told by kickboxing promoters in Australia that, “nobody wants to watch girls fight… it’s not right”, I was particularly determined to prove them that people would in fact watch girls fight.
Well overdue, I was first promoted on a show in Adelaide, fighting kickboxing rules against a fighter from Queensland. Providing high-quality kickboxing, the crowd absolutely loved it, and from there, my kickboxing career truly kicked off. Following great success in my early fights, I began to want more. After taking on the challenge to begin to fight ‘Thai Rules’ (e.g. elbows & knees), I was once again informed that women had no place in such a sport. Yet, my perseverance overcame this obstacle, when I was matched to fight a heavier New Zealand fighter with the addition of knees. This was regarded as the first women’s modified thai fight.
Seeing great success and defying expectations along the way, I soon won the Intercontinental Title, Commonwealth Title and numerous Australian Titles. It was my time to take over the world.
Following these titles, I continued to focus my fighting career overseas. I was fortunate enough to fight in Amsterdam, Italy, USA and Russia.
After an impressive resume of titles, I wanted to fight the best in the business, and thus, journeyed to the pinnacle destination of fighting, Las Vegas, to challenge World Champion Bridgette Riley. An experience I shall never forget. Despite losing a close contest on points that could have went either way, it was exceptional to do what I love in front of a large-scale audience over ten thousand plus people.
I continued fighting domestically in Australia, my favourite locations being in Geelong and Kalgoorlie on Lester Ellis’ undercard, an athlete who inspired me to delve deeper into the sport of boxing.
Following numerous years competing, my focus diverted to passing on my experience to younger athletes, where in my first-year teaching, produced numerous state champion kickboxers.
To this day, my passion remains in running my own boxing gym, BOXTEK. Within the previous two years, I have been a State Coach for the Under 19 Youth South Australian team, which has seen both tremendous growth and success. In addition, I have also trained alongside some of Australia’s top up- and-coming elite amateur boxers as an International accredited coach, both domestically and abroad (Philippines).
Although the medals and personal accolades were fantastic, it is all the years of blood, sweat and tears, all the hours of work and sacrifice, and all the discipline and drive to excel that holds the greatest place in my heart. I am a big fan of the saying that reads, “real rewards are obtained in the act of giving”, and thus, I strive daily to better implement my knowledge onto the lives of younger athletes.