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Photo Credit: Mike Roberts

Photo Credit: Mike Roberts

Wellington Muay Thai Fighter Gentiane Lupi has been fighting a debilitating health setback over the last 9 months that cut short her fighting ambitions. She faced it head on, determined she would fight again and now she’s back with her first fight since recovery scheduled this weekend. We thank Gentiane for sharing her story with us, and we hope it will inspire anyone who has had a serious illness to keep courage high.

The road is never smooth, thankfully or we would all fall to sleep.

Last year I was struck down with Pneumonia then a Pulmonary Embolism. In an instant I went from fighting fit to having to use a wheelchair to get a coffee. The body I had trusted and pushed had broken, had said enough, it may have been saying it for a while but I didn’t want to listen. So it just decided to stop letting me do what I wanted it to.

People asked me what I was going to do now. I had no idea. I was going to be on medication for 6 months plus, with no guarantee that I would be clear to fight after those 6 months. I just turned 40, my news feed was full of 30 year old fighters saying they felt too old already. Could I really take a 9 month break and come back? Or had I been given an easy out?

Fighting is hard, the training hurts, your body is always sore, you limit your social life, you have to be selfish, feel guilty when you relax. Now I could relax and not feel guilty. Except I couldn’t. I couldn’t relax. It didn’t feel good to not have to struggle, to not push, to not have to fight for my own breath, to not have to fight.

My return to the gym was alone, late at night. I huffed up the stairs avoiding looking at the photos of me in the ring, muscled, strong and dominant, skipped rope for 30 seconds then lay on the floor gasping, and laughing at how hard it was. But I missed my teammates, I missed being around people who pushed themselves, who worked hard on their own physical craft.

It was hard coming back to training,  feeling like a former shadow of myself, dying in the warm ups, being scared of being injured and bleeding out all over the floor. But for the first time the pressure was off, I could be at the gym to upskill, work my fitness and enjoy, with no fight looming, there was no drilling of fight specific skills and I was free to try stuff out.

The great thing about starting from zero is that every day you can top your previous Personal Best . 1 chin up becomes 2 becomes 4 becomes 7 becomes 20. Your 9 minute walk/run km gets back to 5, your improvement becomes your motivation, you have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself, and everyone has their own limitations.

Nothing comes for free, you can’t work your body without giving it the rest and fuel it needs, in the same way you can’t put yourself under constant pressure without respite. But there is no map and no definitive operating manual, you are here to make the best decisions for yourself, and there is no success without failure.

Now after almost 9 months break I am to take on the world ranked No.6 Ronica Jeffery of USA in a World Boxing Council Featherweight Title match at Royal Rampage in Auckland on 16 April. I write this a week out, the hard training has been done and now I am heading toward the weigh in and the reality of taking on the world no.6 for a WBC title, in other words the pressure is building.

And I am enjoying it, because win or lose it’s my story and I own the experience, and no one knows what the future holds.

Proactive is proud to sponsor Gentiane Lupi with physiotherapy and exercise physiology services as part of her Mixed Martial Arts training and injury prevention. Check out Gentiane’s fight in Auckland this Saturday 16 April: Royal Rampage

Photo Credit: Mike Roberts

Photo Credit: Mike Roberts

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