Title winning kickboxer has the world at her feet
A nine-year-old Muay Thai kickboxing prodigy from Leeds says she already has ambitions of becoming world champion some day, following her title-winning performance in Sheffield last month.
Safa Hussain might still be in primary school yet her collection of trophies and accolades is already starting to pile up as she continues to pursue a career in martial arts.
Last month, the mini competitor took to Sheffield’s Forge Ponde for the 2016 Sandee Junior Intercontinental Championships, where she competed in the 28kg-30kg category.
Having qualified for the event through the local provisional heats, Safa faced two opponents on the day.
A battle of the roses in the final saw the Yorkshire fighter go head-to-head with Manchester’s entrant with Safa’s white rose eventually waving victorious at the end of the bout.
Speaking of her ‘love’ for the sport, Safa said she was now determined to build on this latest victory.
“I love Thai kickboxing,” she said. “It’s something I always wanted to do so to have won the belt last month is amazing.
“It’s not just about winning though. It is a sport which teaches you self-defence, kicks and punches and I love training with my teacher, Jompop.”
Starting out in the sport at the age of just seven, Safa has two year’s experience and currently trains in Leeds at Roseville Road’s Kiatphontip Gym.
Trained by the experienced fighter, Jompop Kiatphontip, she says the 160-fight veteran is one of her inspirations and hopes to emulate his success in the sport.
“My dream is to one day travel to Thailand and become the best fighter I possibly can be,” she added. “One day I want to be world champion.”
Her father, Saj Hussain, said he was ‘incredibly proud’ of Safa’s latest achievements and would continue to support her in the highly competitive sport.
“She has fought in a lot of inter-club tournaments before and was put forward for the Sandee Championships after winning a number of local fights,” he said.
“It was one of the highest-ranked fights she could compete in so to win the belt was a great achievement. We are all so proud of everything she achieves and this was extra special for her.”
Safa’s older brother also competes in Muay Thai, training at the same club in Leeds.
Saj adds that it is a sport, not enough girls take part in, and urged other aspiring kickboxers to ‘give it a go’.
“Muay Thai is not all about fighting,” he said. “It teaches you self-discipline and life lessons.
“I want my daughter to have the best opportunities in life and through training I can already see the difference it has made. She used to be a shy girl when she was younger but now she is very active and confident.”
He continued: “It is a sport open to everyone. Young girls from all cultures and backgrounds are welcome and I hope people can see the success Safa has had and get inspired to have a go themselves.”