There is a big movement to close the pay gap between women and men in professional sport. For Nat Wondergirl the opportunities that currently exist would have been unimaginable a decade ago.

As a child people mocked her for wanting to be a Muay Thai future because back then female fighters were earning a fraction of what their male counterparts could take home,

“When I was in middle school or even earlier, most people said fighting wasn’t a potential career for me. They said I wouldn’t be able to go this far, make money, and do something like this. They said it had no future.”

Men on top

Even the most successful female fighters only had very limited opportunities. There were a handful of titles available but no promoter was going to pay respectable purses to anyone challenging for the belt.

ONE Championship has been promoting female Muay Thai fighters and kickboxers since 2018. Wondergirl thinks this has transformed the sport for fighters like her,

“Back then, only men could get to the top and earn money or a world title. Now, women can do that too. In ONE Championship, there are many female Muay Thai and kickboxing fighters. This is good for us.”

For Wondergirl fighting always looked like more of a lifestyle than a career, albeit one she was determined to embrace. But ONE Championship has changed all that,

“Fighting for ONE has changed my life a lot. Before, I never thought fighting as a woman would make me any money or anything, or that people would look at me as a hero in martial arts.”

Low priority

The big Muay Thai card in Thailand would never feature female fights. This has all changed with other promoters following in ONE Championship’s footsteps by allowing everyone to compete.

Wondergirl’s father was a fighter and she has been involved in the sport since a very early age. While women have always been allowed to train and compete they never used to get much respect from the fans,

“I grew up with Muay Thai. Female fighters didn’t really get that much attention from the (fight) community or the audience.”

Wondergirl will be fighting at ONE Fight Night 14. The top end of the card at the Singapore Indoor Stadium is dominated by female fighters.

She is taking on Xiong Jing Nan in a special rules boxing match and it will be the first time since signing for the promotion that Wondergirl has found herself at the top end of the card. Competing lower down the card are the likes of John Lineker and Eduard Folayang and the Thai is delighted to finally be receiving this sort of recognition,

“I feel really happy that ONE makes the female fighters as important as the men. It’s great to see this development. I’ve never seen something like this before in my whole career.”