'I'll fight anyone. I want to KO girls!': 'World's sexiest fighter' eyes boxing world title (PHOTOS)
The long and unforgiving road to becoming a world champion boxer often begins with nothing but a dream. Or, to paraphrase Mike Tyson mentor Cus D’Amato “the spark of a dream, that is then fed into a flame, which the becomes a roaring blaze”.Also on rt.com Knockout attraction! Popular 'world's sexiest fighter' confirms next boxing fight (PHOTOS)
Champions exploit that white-hot desire to chase that dream, no matter if it wrenches them from their roots and deprives them of a social life and their senses. All that matters is their goal, glory, and greatness, achieved by grinding hours pounding the road and the punchbag, and taking hours of bruising beatings.
But why on earth would anyone want to do that, when you get paid to laze on a beach all day and model bikinis in the sun?
Meet Avril Mathie. A stunning brunette who swapped the glitz and glamour of the catwalk for the blood, sweat and tears of the boxing ring - and she doesn't regret a thing.
Her story begins in the scorching setting her native Queensland, Australia, perhaps the right place to harbor the spark that has now become that roaring blaze.
After being kicked out of home as a teenager, which she refers to as a "big self-belief message”, the beautiful bruiser has made her name juggling fitness, fighting and modeling.
Since upping sticks and traveling 10,000 miles across the globe to Miami, Florida, Mathie has clinched the 2014 Miss Swimsuit USA International title, as well as winning the 2015 Las Vegas International Model Search.
Now she's set her sights on winning titles in the ring, turning professional in 2018 and winning her first two fights by 1st round KO, before contentiously drawing her last bout for the American Boxing Federation Continental Americas female bantamweight belt and signing to world-renowned promotional company MTK Global, taking her first steps on the road to that dream of a world title.
RT Sport chatted with 31-year-old on going from beach bum to boxing babe, her upcoming fight, swapping catwalks for ring walks, and becoming “the most entertaining female boxer of all time” as shes gears up to take on Delaney Owen at the University of South Florida this Saturday.
I have to ask you - why did you give up modeling swimsuits for getting punched in the face?
I’m actually still modeling swimsuits! It’s a passion of mine and it didn’t stop! A lot of my modelling jobs now actually tie into boxing, like a lot of the fitness shoots that I do more of now. Actually, just the other day I was doing a shoot where they asked me to bring all my boxing gear down, so the two careers complement each other nicely, especially now my own personal brand is also growing.
Have you ever turned up to a shoot with a black eye?
Actually I’ve never had a bad injury in the ring. But if you see after my last fight, I was headbutted seven times - all accidental because she was shorter than me - my face was a mess.
You won the Miss Swimsuit USA International title. How much would it mean to win a world title in boxing?
It’s definitely my goal and where I’m going and what I live for. I love boxing because when you you achieve something it’s exciting because you see something you put your whole life into come into reality. It’s the next step.
A lot of people don’t know your story. You were kicked out of your house aged 15. Did that have anything to do with getting into boxing?
Getting into boxing was nothing to do with getting kicked out of home at 15. Me getting kicked out of home was a big self belief and moral message. Basically my parents didn’t believe in me and I did. I knew what wanted to do and I knew that I could not just survive but thrive.
It doesn’t matter if no one believes in you, you have to believe in yourself. You meet new family - lots of new people come into your life, some will stay for a long time and some will stay for not such a long time, but that’s ok because everyone gives adds a little bit to your life that you can learn from.
I’ve been at the bottom, and I’ve been in a suffering situation. My friends often joke about me, they say that there’s no such thing as a bad situation for Avril because she will always find a way out of it.
How did you eventually get into boxing, then?
I started training in Muay Thai just for fun at 16, I wasn’t really committed until my early 20s, when I began traveling to Thailand for training camps. I played every single sport as a kid, I always made the team but the one thing I was best at was long distance running.
I have that mindset to just keep going and going. While all the other kids are giving up, I had that thing that just made me keep going and going. I broke my toe during a kick in training once and because I couldn’t kick I was boxing for fitness. After a while I was like ‘someone punch me!’
What’s the biggest adrenaline rush - modelling on the catwalk or fighting?
When I was competing in swimsuit competitions, it gave me a real rush to get up on stage; you had to focus on how to walk, who to look at, sometimes they might ask you a question and you’d have to answer so you had to be on your game.
But by 25 it wasn’t an adrenaline rush for me any more, and I think that’s why I fell in love with boxing. It’s the kind of sport where you have to think on your feet, but in split seconds. For me now, the adrenaline rush in boxing is a lot more than what it was in modelling, yeah.
In my very first fight was three two-minute rounds. Half way through the third round, I thought ‘what am I doing!?’ The first two rounds was just about reacting to the punches and the situation, now I had to fight.
Why did you move from Australia to Miami?
In Australia, boxing is not a viable career. Most of the best boxers have other jobs. You need to go to the US or UK to make it a career. The best thing about being based in Miami is the best in the world come here to train. The US is the land of opportunity for sports and entertainment.
When you first turn pro, I had no Olympic pedigree or anything, it’s difficult to get opposition and promoters are hesitant to take a chance on you, they don’t know if you’re going to let the side down. Whereas in Dominican Republic, people fight all the time and it’s close to Miami, so there was a team going over and we went for my first two professional fights.
Turning professional was not about reaching the Olympics or a national tournament. I wanted to have at least 5 fights from start to finish where I can be completely lost in it and concentrate. I would fight anyone and everybody. If you fight someone super experienced they won’t let you get away with little mistakes, some of my best fights against girls who I lost to. I’m always like ‘If they’re better than me, lets go!’
What’s worse - getting in shape for modelling or cutting weight for a fight?
Fighting! For modelling, I’m always in shape and just turn up as I am. Fitness shoots can be grueling, sometimes you’re on shoot for like eight hours and you get home really tired. But for boxing, I can’t turn up at the weigh in four pounds heavier and say ‘yeah but I look good so can we let it slide?’.
What advice would you give to girls getting involved in boxing?
It depends what kind of level. I’d say don’t be scared! Boxing was a lot of fun in the amateurs. In Australia - it was much like ‘fight anyone and everyone’. Then when I wanted to go pro and moved to the US, I was traveling all around the country because I couldn’t get a fight in Florida, promoters were very hesitant because they’re worried you might let the side down. It’s different fighting a 50 kg girl to fighting a heavyweight guy! So some of the advice I'd give to girls would be different. If you do boxing for the love, don’t go pro!
To get far in professional boxing, you need to do more than just be a good boxer, you need to market yourself. Let’s be honest, not many people care about female boxing. You need to be somebody outside of the ring.
Russian UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is chasing a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. As a boxer, do you think he would have a chance in the ring with Floyd?
The first fight I saw of [Khabib] was when I was watching [UFC lightweight title defence] versus Conor McGregor. I don’t know whole lot about him. Would he beat Floyd Mayweather? Here’s the thing - you’ve got to hit Floyd to hurt him - good look doing that! If he does hit him, he can go, I’ve seen it. But I just think Floyd, all day.
Would you ever consider moving into MMA yourself?
Well, I started jiu-jitsu classes just other month because a lot of my friends train in jiu-jitsu. In fact, a lot of the girls I train with in the gym are into MMA. But boxing is where I’m at right now. Never say never, but at the minute my white belt is whiter than snow!
What can we expect from your fight on Saturday and from Avril Mathie fights in general?
I want to be the most entertaining female boxer of all time! I want to knock girls out. I want every fight to be a showcase of skills. I want to be very skillful in the ring and create a show of entertainment.
Sports entertainment is what we do and what I want to do. I’m only just starting out, but I am slowly moving up and maybe I will get there one day!
By DannyWArmstrong, for RT SportAlso on rt.com World’s sexiest fighter? Ex-swimsuit model swaps bikinis for boxing & lands title fight (PHOTOS)