Jersey Katz was nervous before her fight last June for the Thai Boxing Association’s North American championship belt.
But those nerves melted away once she stepped in the ring and, later, took home the title.
“It was such a great feeling, and I just want to experience it again,” Katz said.
Now the 16-year-old Winnipeg high school student is gearing up for her next fight — kicking, punching and elbowing her way to the Women’s Muay Thai World Cup in Calgary this Saturday, where she hopes to add another gold belt to her collection.
“I’m definitely getting excited. I’m prepared for this fight, so hopefully I can show my skills and take the win home,” she told Shannah-Lee Vidal on CBC’s Weekend Morning Show on Saturday.
LISTEN | Jersey Katz talks about how she’s preparing for the world cup:
The Weekend Morning Show (Manitoba)7:10Manitoba athlete competing in Muay Thai World Cup
Muay Thai is like kickboxing, Katz said, but fighters can use their knees and elbows against their opponents.
“I love the teamwork, the discipline you need to have for the sport, the dedication. There’s a lot that goes into it,” she said.
‘She’s just addicted’
Katz has been prepping for six to eight weeks by training six days a week for two hours a day at Winnipeg Kickboxing & Muay Thai on Portage Avenue.
The gym is owned by Trisha Sammons, who is Katz’s mom and also her coach.
“Win or lose, still a winner in my eyes,” Sammons said about her daughter.
A two-time Canadian Muay Thai champion herself, with more than 35 fights under her belt, Simmons said it’s clear her daughter has what it takes to win.
“She makes me super proud,” Sammons said.
“She’s got a lot of dedication. When she puts her mind to it, she’s full throttle.”
Katz first stepped in the ring when she was just five years old, taking part in kids’ classes. But Sammons said for the past two years, she’s really started to hone her skills.
“Now she’s just addicted,” she said.
Katz said she’s grateful to have her mom, who first got her interested in the sport, in her corner along with her brother, who’s also a Muay Thai fighter and will be competing in the world cup later this month.
“She’s really proud of me. She says that she sees a lot of potential in me and she sees herself in me, so … she looks forward to seeing me in the ring,” Katz said.
“It makes me feel great. It definitely gives me a lot of confidence going in there knowing that my coach and my mom … she looks at me like that.”
But as much as Sammons is proud of her daughter, she said she can’t help but feel the pressure ahead of Saturday’s match.
“I’m a nervous wreck. I don’t show it, but putting my kids in there gives me anxiety,” she said.
The key is to trust in her training and hope for a win, Sammons said.
Katz plans to go to post-secondary school after she graduates, but wants to keep fighting and continue making her mom proud.
“I’m definitely trying to follow in her footsteps,” she said.
WATCH | Muay Thai fighter talks about her love for the sport: