A YEAR ago Faith Harvey had never tried Thai boxing, but today will step into the ring vying to become a British champion.
It is a remarkable rise for the 11-year-old who trains for up to four hours six days a week at the Tranent-based Black Diamond Thai Boxing Club.
Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is the art of eight limbs – using punches, elbows, knees and kicks to strike the opponent’s body.
It is Thailand’s national sport and is going from strength to strength in the UK.
Faith started Muay Thai through Black Diamond’s Active School’s programme in May, and since then she has not looked back.
Coach Scott Hendry, 36, said: “I’d noticed at the time that she was taking to the sport very quick. She’s like a sponge to water – absorbs everything she’s been taught.
“I think she’s got the potential to become one of the country’s best fighters in the coming years.
“It’s tremendously remarkable to be perfectly honest how she has adapted to the sport. She dedicates her life to it and never misses a session.”
The St Martin’s Primary pupil has already achieved much in Muay Thai, becoming the WTKA Yokkao Scottish Champion in March before being crowned the WTKA Yokkao UK K1 Champion.
Cheering on ringside is Faith’s mum Naomi Jenkins, 38, who admits it is a scary experience watching her young daughter fighting.
The mum-of-four said: “I’ve nearly had ten heart attacks watching. She’s only 11 and my little girl but I’m getting better at coping.
“Thai boxing isn’t usually something you’d expect an 11-year-old girl to do but she is naturally talented at the sport and absolutely loves it. She only started last summer but she lives for it now.
“I’m immensely proud of what she has achieved already.
“When she grows up she wants to be a fighter or a fashion designer – which are completely opposite ends of the scale. Obviously the latter would be a lot safer.
“I’m not sure where she gets the energy from but she really enjoys it.”
Her next fight is the biggest of her short career – the chance to claim the ICO British Junior Title. In her way will be the more experienced Aaliyah Long of the famous Bad Company Thai Boxing Gym based in Leeds – where today’s fight is taking place.
Faith, from Tranent, is the only representative from Black Diamond Thai Boxing Club to pull on the gloves, meaning she won’t have a big support base.
Despite this, Faith and her team are in good spirit and are hoping she can cause an upset.
Scott added: “I’m very confident she can win, even though she’s fighting against a more experienced opponent.
“She’s 100 per cent dedicated – I can’t look for anymore than that.
“She’s completely fearless, very intelligent and one of the best, well-mannered kids you’d ever meet. She’s an absolute joy to teach. In fact I’d go as far to saying that she makes my job as a coach a whole lot easier.
“It would be a phenomenal achievement for Faith and of course the club.
“We’ve already achieved so much together in such a short space of time.”