Interview of CHANTAL UGHI by Serge TREFEU (2012)
Serge TREFEU: Hello Chantal, thank for the interview, you are Italian, can you say to us in what region you increased and in your district there were gyms of boxing?
CHANTAL UGHI : Hi. Yes I am Italian originally, but at the age of 20 I moved to New York where I started Muay thai. I started Muay thai at ‘The Wat’ gym in New York City and my first teacher was Kru Phil Nurse. At that time Muay thai wasn’t so popular in the US and there were only a few Muay thai gyms in the City, The Wat, Five points and Sitan gym in Brooklyn…
Before making of the boxing you have make the other sports?
I was always a tomboy and I grew up playing many sports. I played tennis and did Athletics, ( I run the 800 meters), from the age of 7 till 14. I quit before turning pro. I also played soccer and volleyball in the school Youth team through out my high school years
How did you discover the boxing?
I did a year of karate and taekwondo. When I moved to New York I was looking for a new Martial art. A friend suggested I ‘d check out a class in the basement of
a gym. It was a Thai boxing or Muay thai class. I had never heard of it before. From the first day I got hooked and I never stopped…
Who attracted you in the muay thai?
At the beginning I thought it was a great workout but soon I got fascinated by its philosophy and its life style, by the fact that it was Thailand national sport and that in the past it was use by soldiers when they lost weapons in the battle. It is a full contact sport but very beautiful to watch. So I decided to go to Thailand to study the martial art from its origin and to live the life of a real nak muay
In what gym you began the boxing?
I started Muay thai at The Wat in New York City with Kru Phil Nurse
You remember your very first fight?
I do. My very first fight was at the WKA North American championships in Richmond, Virginia. My opponent was a black girl so when I stepped in the ring I kept telling my teacher.. ‘But she is black’…and he was like ‘So what .. so am I…..’ I put up a good fight but lost on points and learned that the way your opponent might look doesn’t mean actually
anything, it all comes down to what happens in the ring. And that attitude is very important in Muay thai
What is what there are fighters or female fighters who influenced you at the beginning of your career, fighters whose style you liked?
There a few fighters that have influenced me. Back in the States at the beginning, there were two female fighters I really looked up to: Lucia Rijker and Germaine de Randamie.
I loved Germaine ‘s style. She fights like a man and never backs up, always attacking her opponents. I also liked Thai fighters like Samart Payakaroon back in the days for the use of the teep, Sagmonkol, Samkor, Diesel Noi because he was a muay khao. I was also inspired by the foreign nak muay that lived and fought in Thailand for a long time, I love Jean-Charles Skaborwski, he really inspired me, and also Ramon Dekkers and John Wayne Parr. When I went to Thailand a friend of mine showed me a DVD of some women fighting at the Queen’s Birthday. I said to myself I would like to fight there also one day, I want to reach that level. One year later my dream came true. My favorite fighter today is Sakkedao Petchpayai and I love his style because he is a muay khao fimeu and that is also my style…
How much did you make of fights so far, victory and defeat?
My record today is 47 fights 34 Wins, 13 Losses
You gained a lot of fight by K.O.
I won 15 Fights by KO almost all of them by Knee KO or elbow.
What technique you most like placing in a fight?
I am a Muay khao fimeu or Technician of the knee or clinch fighter. I love knee techniques and clinching, and I like to combine that with elbows
What was your hardest fight in your career?
The hardest fight of my career was fighting Sindy Maricic in Australia for the 66.5 kg. WMC
World title. She is the strongest fighter I ever fought She is taller and heavier than me. I normally walk around at 66 kg., so I stepped up a weight class for the fight. She is an all around fighter so she is good in the outside but also in the clinch
Your best memory of boxing?
My best memory of boxing is my first World title fight WPMF at the King’s birthday in December 2008 in Thailand against Carly Giumulli from Australia. It was my first important fight and fighting in honour of the King of Thailand in front of 100,000 people. I remember I was very excited and a bit nervous but very focus. I really wanted to win and I put up a great fight that was probably one of the best fights of the night. It was a close fight and I didn’t know I had won until the end so when the referee’ raised my hand at the end of the fight my joy was unbelievable!
And the worst?
The worst is probably my MPL fight in Padova Italy against Ilona Wjimans from Holland last year. I had injured my MCL in training but I decided to take the fight anyways or I would have been substituted. The plan was to don’t use my injured leg in the fight. But despite me winning the first round I ended up using the leg in the second round and severely re injuring my MCL during the fight. I ended up finishing the fight with a torn MCL and losing on points a rather easy fight. That cost me a possible MPL qualification, months of inactivity and physiotherapy
What fighter set you most difficulty among all those that you met?
I was on a holiday in Samui and I was asked to fight Antonina Schecevsko on a day notice.
It was definitely a difficult fighter because she is southpaw and uses an unorthodox style.
I didn’t enjoy much fighting her. But also I didn’t train for the fight and I wasn’t prepared…
What is that there is a fighter whom you would like to fight in particular?
I would like to fight Julie Kitchen and Miriam Nakamoto again. I have been waiting for rematch with Julie for three years now. I also would like to fight Amanda Kelly from England and Sandra Bastian from Canada
You fought in the King’s Birthday in Bangkok, what memory you keep of this big event?
I have fought in the King’s Birthday event three times and in the Queen’s Birthday event also three times I believe. It is always a great pleasure and honour to be fighting for these events, infact it is my favourite event to fight for. I love everything about it. The long wait, the tents and dressing rooms outside, The ceremony, The national anthem and all the Thai crowds watching you. It’s an incredible feeling. In the last Queen’s Birthday event it was raining, so we had to stand under the rain before the fight then hold a candle in the ring kneeling in our wet clothes for 20 minutes, still I wasn’t tired and I so still excited to fight!
In Thailand you fought how many times?
I have fought in Thailand about 35-37 times and the rest of my fights are international
What are the Thai lady champions that you met?
I have fought Nongnane Jorguun gym, who is Thailand champion and ranked N°1 in 63 Kg, at Patong stadium in November 2008 and won on points. I also fought S1 champion Petslocha Luksaikovin, and won on points two times in 2010, I fought NongMay, southern Thailand champion, and voted fighter of the year last year, I fought her on Channel 9 TV at the King’s Birthday 2010 and won on points and rematched her this year and won by ref. stoppage round 2. She is the strongest Thai lady champion I ever fought.
That think you of lady Thai boxer?
Lady thai boxers are very good fimeu technician fighters normally, but they are not so strong physically and don’t like to clinch, or maybe they are not trained to clinch so much, due to the fact that in most thai gyms women are still not allowed in the ring and cannot clinch with men. Still there are some exceptions. Especially in the 55-57 kg category lady thai boxers like Dongnapa or Sawsing Sor Sopit are still undefeated and superior to foreigner lady fighters. Some of them today also train boxing and are stronger. Many Ladies Thai boxers today are trained and are successful in Western boxing because there is more money and also because of the Olympics…
You like fighting with elbows?
I love fighting with elbows. Elbows techniques are very effective coming in or in the clinch.
There is not real Muay thai without elbows
You have already trained in several camps in Thailand, you can say to us in what camps you were to train?
I trained at Keatkhamtorn gym , Galaxy gym, Sitsongpeenong gym, Petchyndee Academy and Jitti gym in Bangkok, at Tiger and Rawai Muay thai in Phuket and Lanna Muay thai and Chayai gym in Chiang mai
What difference there is for you to train in Thailand and train in Italy or USA?
Well. I never really trained in Italy, only for a short period of time. And in the US in my beginning days. But I can say yes, there is a lot of difference from the training in Thailand.
In Thailand you run a lot, you train better in the heat, You train one to one with a Thai trainer and do five rounds of pads or more if you are fighting in the afternoon and clinch for 30 minutes or an hour every day. I really like the traditional Thai style of training of the Thai gyms. In Italy, US or the Western gyms I believe today you do a different style of training, a lot of strength and conditioning, circuit or interval training, and pads and long runs not every sessions. I believe this style is good to fight in the West, but Thai style is good to fight in Thailand. Also in the West there are not a lot of Thai trainers so sometimes people or fighters hold pads for each other
What are the titles you have won?
I won the WPMF 66 kg. World title against Carly Giumulli from Australia, I won the WMA 63.5 kg. against Ielo Page from France, I won a Gold Medal at WMF World championship against Gulistan from Turkey and recently I won the WMF Pro am championship World title in Bangkok against Maria Watcheska from South Africa!
Of what title you are most proud?
All of them but I am very proud of my last WMF title because it was a hard earned victory after I had three fights in one week and because I wanted to fight for that title for a long time but last year I couldn’t fight because I was injured
In what category you fights today?
Today I normally fight in the 63.5 Kg category in professional fights or 66 Kg in the Pro am world championships or tournaments
You fight only in Muay Thai or have you already fought in the other forms of boxing?
I fight mainly Muay thai but I once fought Boxing in Thailand and K1 in Italy
In Italy now the Muay Thai is very know but what is that there are many events of muay thai with female fights?
Yes lately Muay thai in Italy is very popular and they have many events almost every week with female fights also. Also it is more popular because of the new promoter/sponsor Yokkao boxing which is also my sponsor. I would like to have some fights over there too…
Female muay thai is developed well in Italy?
Female Muay thai is growing in italy in the last year or so
You think that female Muay Thai is represented well in the world, at the level of the media especially?
I don’t think female Muay thai is well represented in the World. Most of Muay thai cards have only men’s fight or only one woman fight. But things are changing quickly due to promoters like the Muay thai Premiere League who created an amazing tournament with a female superlight weight division, or in the USA with promoters like Christine Toledo and Lyons Fight promotions who is creating events with a lot of female fights on the cards or events like the Enfusion TV show. But in Thailand still events like Thai fight or the Toyota cup are only for men. I hope one day they will make Thai fight style tournaments for women also. that would be amazing!
What are for you today the best female fighters world in your category?
I think today the best fighters in my category are Miriam Nakamoto, Julie Kitchen, Tainara Lisboa and Sandra Bastian
You met the French champion Ielo Page for a World title, of which think you of this fighter and your fight in front of her?
Yes I met Ielo Page in Bangkok and we fought for the WMA world 63.5 kg title. I think Ielo is a amazing fighter and has very good fimeu style. I love her style. She almost fights like a thai but she is stronger than a Thai. She is also a very nice and humble person…
You also faced the French champion Angélique Pitiot for an European title, of which think you of this fighter?
Yes I fought Angelique Pitiot in Tours France for the WPMF European title. I think Angelique is very strong and has good boxing (hands/punches) but I don’t really like her style. I still believe I had won that fight, like many Thais in the crowd had said
Do you know the other French fighters of today or of before and what think you of fighters French?
I know other French female fighters besides Ielo, yes, Haifa also a very good fimeu style fighter also, Laetitia Lambert and Laetitia Bakissy. I believe France has a long tradition in Muay thai, French fighters were among the first who went to Thailand training and fighting.
There are a lot of good French fighters today I have seen competing in Thailand at a high level, like Damien Alamos who won the Lumpini belt and others. I would like to train in Paris one day I think it will be very good. I am curious to experience the training there
You also faced for a World title a formidable English Julie Kitchen of whom think you of your fight against her?
Julie Kitchen is very tall, about 6’1″ , 182 cm, very strong and very technical fighter and now that she has improved her clinch game in Thailand, became almost unbeatable. I admire her for her achievements and will power. However, I have to say I fought Julie in 2009 almost three years ago when I only had 14 fights, I took the fight on a week notice and found out 5 minute before that I was actually defending my WPMF title, someone else would have walked away, but I put up a great fight instead, showed a lot of heart and went on for 5 rounds. I am waiting for a rematch with Julie for 3 years now, I believe I became a much better fighter today and I believe that my Muay thai knowledge being in Thailand all
this time and my clinch game are superior than hers. So hopefully it will happen soon before she retires…
In 2008 you faced a male fighter in Thailand, it was a real fight or a match of demonstration, why you made this fight against a man?
It was a real fight, he actually kicked really hard, the hardest I have been ever kicked in a fight, he also elbowed me, I had a huge lump on my forehead after the fight. However I managed to win the fight on points in the clinch. I was going home after three months period and I really wanted to fight. My female opponent cancelled last minute so they told me that if I wanted I could have fought a man. First I said ‘No way!’ But then I said Ok, why not?’ It was a challenge and I always liked challenges!
What are your next fight for 2012?
I am waiting for a rematch with Julie Kitchen and Miriam Nakamoto, I just talked with an American promoter, hopefully a tournament between the three of us and someone else. I will fight in Thailand for the WMF pro 63.5 kg World title in May. Opponent TBA. Hopefully I can fight for a WMC title soon, since everybody seems to be fighting for it lately
In what gym you train at present?
At present I train at Jitti gym in Bangkok
Who is your coach and which are your sparring partener?
My trainer is Tam Jitti gym and my sparring partners vary all the time, Tam or other Thai trainers, or some foreigner fighters at the gym
Before becoming a professional fighter you were an actress in Italy, you shot many movies?
Yes I was an actress in Italy before and in America. I was in many movies that won Awards also, among others Traveling Companion starring French actor Michel Piccoli, in competition at Cannes film Festival, International acclaimed Not of this World by Giuseppe Piccioni and I was the Lead actress in But we Only Made Love by Fulvio Ottaviano, Albania Blues by Nico Cirasola and Big Apple, aka ‘Freax and the City’ by Danny Lerner. I also won Best short film at the Brooklyn international Film Festival with a film that I directed and starred in called ‘My Right Hand”
What is that it would enjoy you one day to play a role of boxeuse in a movie?
That would be great. Yes I would love to play a boxeuse in a movie. Hopefully it will happen soon. Or maybe do a martial art movie like Ong Bak, using the old style of Muay Boran which I began to study
You have make of the modelling also?
Yes I was a model in Tokyo and Paris in magazines and fashion shows at the age of 18
You want to add anything?
Well, I want to thank all my teachers and all the foreign and Thai boxers that helped me alongside my career. It has been hard but a great fun. I hope to continue and keep fighting for a while and have more success, I want to thank Clifton Brown and the Muay Thai Premiere League and my sponsor Yokkao boxing, Stefania Muay thai combat for the support, and the WMF team. Thank you Serge and SIAMFIGHTMAG for the interview!
Thank you for having answered this interview and CHOOKDEE for your fights
Chantal Ughi is a determined fighter who lives her passion of Muay Thai in the country source, from now on several years. She is at present a member of the best of her category and the big challenge does not frighten him, as until go to face a male fighter. This kind of fight had not been realized since the famous fight of the terrible woman fighter Lucia Rijker against a man in the 90s, the fight which Rijker had lost by KO. And Chantal Ughi managed of the exploit to win in front of a boxer, it is strong and unique in the annals of Muay Thai!
Weight: 63.5/65 kilo
Height: 177 cm/5’10”
Number of fight:47. 34 Wins (15 KO). 13 Losses.
Title: WPMF World Champion, WMA World Champion, WMF World Champion Pro, Gold Medal WMF World championship
Team: Jitti gym Bangkok