International management major Misty Sutherland is already an international success in the martial art of Muay Thai (also known as Thai boxing).
The Calgary campus student won the silver medal in her weight division at the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (IFMA) 2006 World Amateur Muay Thai Championships in Bangkok, Thailand, where she and her Canadian teammates were recognized as the best female team.
Sutherland is also the 2005 World Kickboxing Association World Amateur Championships Thai Boxing (57-kg) gold medallist, the 2005 IFMA/ Canadian Muay Thai Council - Amateur Team Canada Canadian Women’s Muay Thai champion and the 2005 International Kickboxing Federation North American Women’s Lightweight Muay Thai champion.
“The IFMA silver medal is my biggest success to date because the tournament is the largest amateur Muay Thai tournament in the world – it is essentially our Olympics. I lost the gold to a very strong Russian opponent who had four times the ring experience that I did,” says Sutherland.
Thai boxers wear gloves that look similar to those worn by western boxers and use their fists, elbows, shins, knees and feet to strike opponents. Sutherland has been fighting competitively since 2003, and she says the competition really is a thrill.
“The rush and adrenaline of a fight is very intense and addictive,” says Sutherland. “Probably the most important physical attribute is explosiveness, which is the ability to ignite your muscles and hit your opponent before she even knows it’s coming.”
Several U of L professors have expressed concern for Sutherland’s occasional bruises and black eyes, but she assures them the injuries are self-inflicted. “As far as injuries go, I have been pretty lucky. We have wonderful officials in Canada who really look out for the safety of the athletes. Severe injuries aren’t that common,” says Sutherland.
Respect is an integral part of the Muay Thai tradition. “You respect your opponents, your coaches and, most importantly, your teammates. We train as a team at set times and basically help one another further our skills as we work through different drills,” says Sutherland.
She enrolled in the U of L’s bachelor of management program in 2004 due, in part, to the flexible course schedule at the Calgary campus. “I enjoyed the option of evening classes as I prefer to train during the day,” says Sutherland.
On a typical weekday, Sutherland works from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., trains from 2 to 5 p.m., attends a U of L class from 6 to 9 p.m. and finishes the day with cardiovascular training from 9 to 10 p.m. The structured schedule motivates Sutherland to be as efficient as possible with her sport and her studies.
“When I am training for competition, I spend roughly 20 to 25 hours a week in the gym,” says Sutherland. “I would like to think that the ‘hard work equals great results’ ethic has transferred from my training time to my study time.”
Sutherland is currently taking a break from her routine to complete her final semester of studies on a U of L Faculty of Management exchange at the University of Applied Sciences Schmalkalden in Germany.
After graduating in June, Sutherland will focus on gaining enough international work experience to work as a consultant. “I’d like to use my knowledge of and experience in different cultures to help corporations in Calgary that are looking to expand into new markets,” says Sutherland.
She also plans to resume her training with Ajarn (teacher) Mike Miles in Calgary when she returns from Germany in March.
“A year and a half ago, I never would have dreamed that I would return from the world championships with a medal. My goals are evolving, but eventually I would like to win an amateur world title and have a professional fight,” says Sutherland. “I have a few teammates who balance careers and Muay Thai, and I’d like to do the same.”
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