When I started training in muay thai, Olivia Gerula was one of the nicest people in the dojo. She was kind, funny, and she even let me “kick” her in the head for a magazine photo. Recently, she was the World Boxing Council’s Super Featherweight Champion of the World–not bad for a girl from the ‘Peg! But on November 27th in Stockholm, her title was taken away by Swedish fighter Frida Wallberg. Gerula says the fight was unfair–was it? We’ll find out in the rematch! But my money’s on her.
Q1) How did it go in Sweden?
A1) Apart from the dismal end result of losing in a terrible decision, Sweden was a very good experience, and I look forward to returning soon to fulfill the rematch clause and get back what is rightfully mine! Boxing has taken me all over the world: Paris, Tokyo, Peru….
Q2) What goes through your mind before you step into the ring? Are you ever nervous?
A2) The last thing I hear when I’m stepping in between those ropes is my ring song (Move Bitch by Ludicris), and I’m fired up and ready to go! No nerves–by fight night the work is done and it’s time to show what you’re made of.
Q3) Hopefully you don’t mind me saying so, (you’ve always looked great) but your body has undergone quite the transformation. What did you do? What is your training regime/diet? Is it difficult to stay in fighting shape?
A3) Fighting shape is a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t like to live there. When I fight I weigh in hard around 127 pounds, really watch what I’m taking in for extra calories, stick to high protein, natural foods, indulge in nothing remotely yummy, up the cardio, drop off the heavy lifting and water water water. I naturally walk around at 135 pounds eating whatever but evening it out with training. It’s damn hard to train like I do so I give my body a break between fights.
Q4) I’ve read that you make a full-time living fighting–true? If so, are you the only woman in the city who can make such a claim? What do you think sets you apart? How difficult is it to balance your job with your responsibilities as a mother?
A4) I can’t answer in regards to any other women in the city; another professional fighter hasn’t crossed my path, which doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but I don’t know of them. As far as full-time living = yes and no. At the level I compete I do command enough to be comfortable, however as a personal trainer and a boxing and kickboxing coach I am lucky enough to love what I do and do what I love. It all goes hand in hand and I’ve forged a career catered around my crazy lifestyle and still find the time for the important things like family!
Q5) How/why did you get started in muay thai and boxing?
A5) I come from a gymnastic and soccer (Still play! Love it) background and at 13 I thought it would be cool to try kickboxing, reasoning that I had strong muscular legs and great flexibility – perfect for kicking people in the head!! When I turned 14, my mom finally relented and let me go to martial arts so I snuck in kickboxing, too. From there I trained in Muay Thai then on to boxing and when I’m done with boxing no doubt I’ll be moving on to MMA before hanging up my gloves.
Q6) What special challenges do you feel women experience in this sport? What’s the stupidest thing someone has ever said about your choice to be a woman who kicks ass?
A6) Special challenges??? Hmm… honestly I think every fighter, man or woman, has to earn their respect. As a woman in a predominantly male sport, your work is cut out for you and of course there is the issue of mass media coverage, million dollar paydays, and equal opportunity promoters that women’s boxing is lacking. Stupidest thing ever said??? Nothing extraordinarily stupid, just comments about why I’d want to mess up my pretty face, and come on… who’s going to get upset when someone calls you pretty? I may be a professional world champion boxer but I’m still a girl! LOL!!!
Q7) Have you ever felt like quitting? If so, why and what kept you going?
A7) Nope, never! Not in my vocabulary.
Q8) How do you motivate yourself to train or stick to a diet when you just don’t feel like it, or have had a really bad day?
A8) The motivation is strong–it’s survival. Every time I step in the ring, I risk both physical and mental injury, and for that reason I train whether I’m hurt, tired, pissed off, broken-hearted or busy. Dieting gets a whole lot easier when that slice of cheesecake might cost you ten thousand dollars if you don’t make weight!!
Q9) What gym do you train out of now? Why did you choose that gym?
A9) I train all over. The support of the boxing community in Winnipeg is fantastic and I spread the love between King John’s Autobody shop, United Boxing Club and Go Jo gym. As well as all my conditioning out of Shapes and Peguis Trail Fitness Center and the good old streets of Winnipeg!
Q10) What has been your best and worst experience in the ring?
A10) Worst experience: getting knocked out – didn’t think it was possible! Sucks to realize I was mistaken. Best experience: five years later beating that same fighter round after round and taking the WBC Superfeather Weight World Title home!!! Pay back’s a BITCH!!
Thanks, Olivia! It was great to catch up with you!
Do any of you have questions for her? Stay up-to-date with Olivia’s career and upcoming fights on her website.
Great interview! Thanks for the read.
Great job! Great questions. She’s very driven and motivating. We can all learn a little from her.
Thanks, Chris and Kim! Glad you enjoyed it. I’m proud to have trained with so many great fighters early on, and it’s fantastic to see where their careers have taken them.
@ Kim – One thing that has always been true about Olivia is that the girl has rock-solid confidence about her abilities. She’s always had the ego of a fighter, and I mean that in a good way. I think it’s something a lot of female fighters lack, compared to men: that confidence to say “I’m the best, and I’m going to kick your ass”. She’s got it.
Yep. That comes across nicely in her answers. That’s the kind of confidence that you can’t fake. It is also the kind of confidence that, typically, society frowns upon coming from women. She’s not trying to be or talk like a man though. There is still a distinct femaleness about her — that comes across in her answers as well.
Not to mention she’s a babe. 😉 Definitely a distinctive female quality.
Loved the interview!
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Lisa. Thanks for the feedback.