Name: Alana “Avatar” Neal Age: 28 Weight: 60kg Gym: Olsen Muay Thai Factory Perth, WA Fight Record: 6 wins, 0 losses Titles: WMC 61kg WA State Title
1. How long have you been training Muay Thai and what made you want to become a fighter?
I have been training for about 4 years but had a year off due to a bad back injury at the end of 2012. I got into it because I started watching the UFC and loved it. I had never heard of Muay Thai before that so one day I decided to look up any Muay Thai clubs in my area. I actually rocked up one day to Riddlers Gym, walked to the front door and heard all the scary noises, was way too intimidated and ran away. (But I’ve never told Caley or Darren Reece that) Then a month later decided to get it together and try again. Too embarrassed to show my face at Riddlers again I went to Olsen Factory.
I’m not a naturally fit person. I was always the fat kid coming last in the running race at school and sometimes I feel like I have to put in double the time to get half as fit as everyone else. So fitness is where most of my efforts go.
3. How do people react when you tell them you are a fighter?
I don’t think they fully understand what’s involved until they actually see a fight. After that people are quite shocked that there is no headgear or padding. Then you can never complain about anything again. If you smash your elbow on a table you get the classic response “Shut up! You’re supposed to be a fighter!”
Winning my title belt. It was the first fight that I really walked in with no regrets. I truly believed I had done all I could do to prepare. I trained my ass off and my diet was near perfect. I fought Crystel Carlow who I have always respected as a fighter. She’s a little pocket rocket, will fight anyone and would not go down. She has a lot of heart so I knew it would be a tough fight. My goal was always to win a belt so I am so grateful I was able to achieve this.
I am part Native American and African American. My hair is naturally closer to an Afro but I hate it. Most people have never seen my natural hair. I am deathly terrified of snakes and reptiles so whenever I am in Thailand I am constantly scared. Even those “cute” little lizards freak me out. Before Muay Thai my passion was golf and music. I had a golf and music scholarship in high school where my specialty was the Alto Saxophone.
6. How would you describe yourself as a fighter?
I am quite an aggressive fighter. I am not as technical as I would like to be. More “Western style” I guess
After my back injury I wasn’t sure whether I would actually be able to fight again. I’ve since had a few fights. It’s a tough sport on the body and I came into it with injuries I sustained playing basketball. Plus I am often fighting girls 10 years younger so I am motivated to push through as I never know what fight could be my last. But I also love training others so that will be my focus when I retire.
8. What is your favourite thing about being a fighter?
Pushing myself mentally and physically past points I ever thought I could. Every time I leave the ring I think “I can’t believe I just did that!” It’s a pretty rewarding feeling and its helped in every aspect of my life. I’m slowly starting to believe in myself as that has always been an issue of mine.
I am deathly scared of walking out but I secretly love the pageantry of it all so probably a big show like Lion Fight in Las Vegas.
10. Any advice for anyone wanting to become a fighter?
Just give it a go. Whether you win or lose you will be proud of yourself. For all the girls too intimidated to try it out please do. I don’t know what I would be doing now if I didn’t force myself shaking through the door at Olsen Factory.
Anyone you would like to thank?
My trainers Oliver Olsen and David Truong. My OMTF family, such a great group of guys and girls that I train with. My students for being awesome and listening to what I say even if I don’t do it myself J My family and my partner Mei-li who have always supported me in anything I do. And my sponsor Muscleworx Mt Lawley for helping me with my supplement needs and always being supportive. And Thanks to Natasha Sky for the interview. I’m a big fan of your career and think you do a great job promoting women’s Muay Thai.
Check out my Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/alana.neal.5
Interview By Natasha Sky, Sept 2014, Photos supplied
Please check out my other female fighter interviews and blogs on my Fight page (HERE)