I Thought I Recognised Her - Bay Bee Nansen
Bay Bee Nansen: The Shy Fighter – Kickboxer, Boxer, Trainer And Mother To Twins.
*Originally published on June 6, 2016
I tell people that I come from South Auckland. They’re actually quite shocked. There are a lot of hidden talents in South Auckland that New Zealand doesn’t know about. But we have the likes of Mark Hunt, Joseph Parker, we do have a lot of talent in South Auckland, so people shouldn’t be surprised. I do feel cool telling people I’m from South Auckland. Coming from a family where money was hard, Dad was hard working, to get to where we are now. They taught us a lot of things, like to work hard for what we believe in. So here I am now raising my twins. I’m acting manager for SMAC gym for a while, so I’m off training for the moment.
I get quite shy when people do ask me what I do. I tell them that I’m a fitness trainer, because I don’t want them to think I’m a tough guy. But when people ask where I train, I tell them SMAC Kickboxing gym and they get quite shocked. I think it’s because I’m really small, and I don’t have the look of a fighter. Anyone would just think that I’m a normal, little girl. They don’t even know that I have twins until I bring them up.
I am a fighter, and I have come a long way. I’ve had almost 50 fights for boxing and kickboxing. I recently fought for a title against Melissa St Vil and lost slightly on points. But it was a really good fight versus someone that’s ranked number 3 in the world, I’m quite privileged to fight her. I also have five national titles in Kickboxing. I also have a professional Muay Thai belt, a WMC New Zealand title. I hold that title, which is fought with all eight limbs – so that’s the elbows and knees, including punches and kicks. So it’s pretty full on, you also get knees in the head. I’m just waiting to get some more opportunities in boxing.
I definitely represent my Samoan side, I’m really proud to be Samoan, all of us know what it’s like being brought up the Samoan way, the Samoan culture, it’s really hard, but it’s brought me to where I am now, so I’m grateful. I’m quite thankful that I have taro legs. I’d like the tall and lanky look, but I notice Samoan people put on muscle quite easily. I get muscles much quicker than Caucasian girls, that’s for sure.
I’ve been doing this for ten years. I say I’ve come a long way because I was a troubled youth. I was mixing around with the wrong crowds, doing drugs, alcohol abuse, violence. I knew no better. I came to the gym and fell in love with it straight away after one training session. I quit everything, got into church. I’ve been fighting ever since. It made me feel the best I’ve ever felt. Every training, even if I’ve had a bad day, I come into train, have my training session and I leave feeling really good about myself. It’s a confidence booster.
I do follow after my brothers and sisters. My brother is also a world champion, my sister (Victoria Nansen) is a world champion. They’re definitely my role models in the sport, they’ve been doing it for 10 plus years. It was my sister that got me here. I thought I’d give it a try but I was really skeptical about it, you know, being a contact sport and I’d have to start sweating, couldn’t wear any makeup. But then I just fell in love with it, it just gave me a sense of purity. I started discovering all my strengths and weaknesses inside and outside of the sport, realising what I needed to work on, whether it was fighting or in life in general.
Inside the ring, it starts from mental preparation. The training towards the fight, there’s all these self doubts – it just makes me stronger. In my head there are so many reasons why I should quit, but it gives me strength and motivation to keep going and see how far I can get. In the ring, I can never stop learning whether I win or lose. There is always something to work on. It’s a learning thing for me. After my fights, whether I feel bad or not, I always treat it like education, but education about myself. There are some things I’m good at, and some things I’m not.
When I get hit, I guess the adrenaline really helps. When it’s in sparring, there’s no adrenaline, light practice, and you feel everything in sparring – but I don’t feel much in the ring. I don’t mean to sound cocky, but I think it’s because I’m so full of adrenaline and nerves. I feel that I’m getting hit and I’m getting tired, but as much as I train, it’s a mental game.
When I do get hit, I am hungry to get the points up to win the fight. If I got hit clean, then I’m like, damn I need to get her back. But if I have my guard up and she hit my guard, or I blocked her kick with my shin, which is a leg check, then I feel good about myself. I get really nervous when I fight, and when I do get hit, I do get really aggressive and try and get them back.
My twins help with me overcoming my nerves. I cuddle them and kiss them and having family time, or down time, helps a lot. I talk to my partner who is a fighter as well. I talk to him a lot about how I’m feeling. He brings up my confidence. I do pray as well, I pray a lot when I get nervous. When I had my twins, I had 18 months off and then I was back into it. I really enjoyed being pregnant and giving birth to the kids. It did affect my training and I did start feeling quite down about myself because of the weight gain, but I started losing weight straight away. I try not to get distracted, and try to endure the feelings of fear. That’s what I’ve been doing in the past, but I use my twins to heal me.
Muay Thai and boxing is definitely my world, but it has affected me being a Mum. It has affected my time in training, and sometimes when I jump in the ring, I’m still in Mummy mode, so I’m still quite soft. Other than that, since giving birth to twins, my pain tolerance has sky-rocketed. As soon as I had the kids, and jumped in the ring and started fighting again my pain tolerance was better and mentally I was better, because I thought, I’ve gotta do this for my twins. They’re my motivation as well.
This is a family-run gym. My brother-in-law and sister run it. We’ve got up to 200 members and 50 fighters. People just love it here because it’s like a family gym. We give people a warm welcome. You don’t have to be tough or “thug-life”, you can be a nerd, or you can be some guy who has got a ankle bracelet on his leg, we’ll still treat everyone equally.
I’m still working my way to be a world champion in boxing at the moment, I still want to bring home the World bling for my twins in both Muay Thai and kick boxing. My goals in the future would be to continue to inspire troubled youth, and overweight women and men in this country, I’d like to motivate them more. My partner and I are looking to opening up another SMAC gym.
I have worked with troubled youth, I had youth from Manurewa High for a whole year last year and just seeing them change after 12 week challenges, it was a real blessing that I could help them boost their confidence and feel good about themselves, because I got a lot of kids that were bullied. There are a couple in our youth class now, that’s cool that they wanted to continue learning Thai Boxing.
I’d say Muay Thai and boxing is for everybody, I sound really cheesy saying it’s a self-discovery, but I’ve been doing it for so long, and I really fell in love with fighting. For others that come into the sport that aren’t fighters, we don’t push them to be fighters, we just push them to learn and start feeling confident about themselves. I would recommend Muay Thai and boxing, whether you want to fight or not, it’s good for the body, good for the soul and it’s such a confidence booster, it changes lives, like it’s changed mine. Without Thai boxing, I don’t know where I’d be right now.