Welcome to this special installment of the blog that celebrates everything to do with women in martial arts.
In this installment I'm going to look at my club mate and training partner, Jennifer "Baby Wild Thing" Molloy. I've watched this young kickboxer grow from a young child in the gym to my training partner and sparring partner, to one who is up there challenging for European and World honours. She has come on in leaps and bounds under the watchful eye of both our coaches, and Jen's dad, Ken Molloy. I have no doubt that she has a very bright future in this sport and I couldn't be more proud of her!
Jennifer grew up in the world of kickboxing. Her father is head instructor of Fight Club Kickboxing and Jen came along to the club even as a baby and would be crawling around the floor. As soon as she was old enough she would copy what everyone was doing. It wasn't long before she was officially taking part in the classes.
Jen has taken part in many light contact fights and has accumulated many titles, then moving on to full contact when she was old enough; where she has continued adding titles to her growing collection.
I spoke to Ken and here's what he had to say about Jennifer:
KM - Hi Barbara, let me just start by saying I didn't want to say anything on your blog because I didn't want anybody thinking I was using it as a soapbox for my opinions, but as Jen is my daughter and I'm her coach I'll relent just this once.
BD - They wouldn't think that!
KM - I'll start with the daddy stuff first; Jenny's turning into a beautiful young lady that myself and Tina are very proud of and love very much. She's well mannered, smart and thoughtful, and I think she's going to be successful in life.
Now the coach stuff; Where do I start? She was thrown into the full contact before she was ready, due to a promoter neglecting to tell us the proper rules or weights. The fight was meant to be a light contact Irish title fight, but we were told it was full contact at a heavier weight on the day. I asked her if she wanted to go ahead with it and she bravely said yes and she went on and won the fight. Since then there has been no progression in fight caliber. It's been all title fights with top top fighters, in international fights for big titles and she's mixing well with them . She trains hard and as you very well know, I'm a tough task master.
BD - You certainly are!
KM - Jenny gets pushed hard 'cause she's fighting top brass opponents. She responds well and she has so much more to learn and offer. She's still finding her strengths... she's a work in progress!
She spars hard in Phibsboro Boxing Club regularly and they work her hard down there. YOU can attest to that!
BD - I can, they're really tough. They don't hold back!
KM - It toughens her up she learns a lot there. I love bringing you guys there. They're a great bunch of people. A big shout out to Paddy and Frank and all the gang there. Then she spars 10-15 round sessions on the weekend with a certain 7-time world champion I know; and you push her even harder. I want to say something at this point (see I'm on my soapbox already).
BD - No you're not!
KM - You are, in my opinion the best pound for pound female kickboxer in this country, if not of all time and you deserve more adulation than you get. I've seen you fight back from a career ending operation. Being out for two years rehabbing and coming back to the ring to claim five world titles; three of them pro titles and a low kick European title and also three of which were within 8 months of your come back. That is inspiring for any young fighters out there and is something I think your readers need to know.
BD - I still have to pinch myself. At the time, I just wanted to get back into the ring. When the fights came up, I jumped at the opportunities. I didn't really put much thought into it at the time, but it is amazing when you put it like that.
KM - And Babs if you want to go round 'one more time' I will be right there with you. I'd love to see you and Jenny headlining a show together.
BD - I'd love that also. To train alongside her and then headline a show alongside her would be really great. She has come such a long way!
KM - Jenny watched your career first hand and learned her ethics about discipline from you. She watched you climb the hill to success, fall and come back stronger than ever. Even at about 11 or 12 years old she did your corner with me in England for your come back fight; a 10 round pro world title fight ( which you won ), when Colm just had the twins and was unable to go. Now it's her turn and she's bringing all that experience to bear.
I could talk all day about Jenny, but I won't. I'll ask your readers to watch out for her and come out and support a second gen, young Irish kickboxer and watch her develop into a top class fighter.
BD - And I will second that, she is definitely on the road to becoming a really great fighter and even eclipsing me. If anyone can do that, she truely can!
KM - Lastly, you may have noticed her fight name "Baby Wild Thing". For those of you who don't know my fighting name was "Wild Thing" and I was overjoyed when Jen kept the old name going.
BD - You must be so proud of her!
I also caught up with Jen earlier. Here's what she had to say:
Since I was five years old. Even when I was younger I was always in and out of my dad's gym.
What are you favourite things about training?
My favourite thing in training is doing combos and learning new and different skills.
Is there any aspect of training you don't like?
I definately do not like dieting. It is the worst thing in the world watching other people eating the food that you can't have until after you weigh in. Even the smell makes me want to just run over there and shove he whole thing in my mouth! Lol
What's it like having your dad as the WIMAAO President?
It's a bit weird at times because I would hear him talking about up and coming things that no one knows about as they're not set properly yet.
What's it like having you dad as a coach?
It can be hard at times because while the other kids out of our club can just train when the club times are on; when you have your dad as a coach, for me we train in my very small house, in the park. It can also be great, if say, the coaches are going somewhere, I'm able to go with them. So there are a lot of perks to being the coach's daughter!
How is it being a WIMAAO Champion?
It's great actually because I got to see the belt being designed and it's good to know that I'm a good enough fighter to own one.
What sort of training do you do for a fight and how many times a week do you train?
I do intense training like jogging in the morning when I'm not in school. When I am in school I have to go straight after, training either in the gym doing circuits and pads or just running the pads in my house. A very strict diet and I mean STRICT! All I eat is rice and chicken and constantly checking my weight. I train every day, twice a day, except Sundays.
How is it being a female in the sport?
It can be hard at times as sometimes its hard to find an opponent that is my weight and age in kickboxing, because most girls lately do boxing. So there are not as many girls as there would be boys.
Who do you look up to in the sport?
There's two people I look up to in the sport. Yourself and my dad because you are such a great fighter and have so many titles that I wish I had; and my dad because even though he doesn't have as many titles as you, he didn't give it up. He kept going and eventually opened his own gym and didn't give up on what he loves.
I believe you did you Junior Cert last June. How did you get on? How hard is it juggling training with school?
I got on great. I got 8 honours and 2 passes. It can be really hard, especially when I was doing my junior cert. When I'd get home from school, I'd go straight to do my homework to try get it out of the way. But then I'd have to have my dinner on top of that, then go training and I still wouldn't have it all done. So as soon as I'd get home from training I'd go back to doing my homework. Then again, it wasn't just homework, I had to study aswell. So by the time I was finished all of it, it would be about midnight.
What do you friends think of you putting so much time into training?
My friends would say "Do you not thing it's a bit much to be training and dieting so much"? I'd just reply "No, I'm used to it." But most of the time they ask "Are you on another diet? But why? You don't have anything but bone! Haha"
How do you be a teenager and train like a professional adult?
Well most of the time when it's just normal days training and there's no fights I wouldn't
But when there's a fight I wouldn't go out during the week and I wouldn't go out that much on weekends, only if I'm in the mood or I'm not too tired or sore.
From experience I know it's very hard to fund training but I believe you have a sponsor. How did that come about because I know who hard that is?
The founder of the WIMAAO Nigel McClure told my dad there was a new club joining the organisation, Saj Ali, Freestyle Martial Arts, and he was interested in sponsoring a fighter. He gave my dad his number. My dad was speaking to him about me and he said he would like to sponsor my European Title fight on Mark Enstone's show, Warzone 2 in Enniscorthy. I would like to thank Saj so much for his generosity, without which this fight would not have happened.
What do you want to be when you leave school?
For a while I've been thinking of being a fire fighter, but I'm not going to keep saying it in case I change my mind.
I would come back for one more fight if I could joint top bill with you; "The One" and "Baby Wild Thing" on the poster side by side. What do you think about that?
Yeah, that would be so cool. Honestly, we would be each others good luck charms! Haha
What does it mean to you to be fighting for a European title?
I'm so proud of myself that I came far enough to be fighting for a European title. It will be my second time for one but this time I'm definitely not letting this one go the other way!
Saj Ali, 3rd Dan, Freestyle Martial Arts
Sponsor European Title Fight
Since writing this blog, Jennifer became the new WIMAAO Junior European champion by stopping her opponent in the 2nd Round. Well done, Jennifer, I knew you could do it!
Send me in your stories, experiences or photos or anything you'd like discussed, or upcoming events you'd like mentioned to firstname.lastname@example.org