Athletic Women Magazine Blog

Features, News, Coverage on Athletic Women

Tag: combat sports

Chyna: Do Not Handle With Care – This Is No Fragile Lady

“Don’t go. We’re interested in you.”

These five simple words stopped Joanie Laurer, AKA Chyna, from embarking on a pro boxing career and plying her trade as the female heavy for the WCW.

“I knew the WWF was interested in me, but I started to lose hope about getting hired. I was called by the WCW and I was going to attend their television show and come out as a tough girl.

“I was driving to Alabama and I stopped by the WWF pay-per-view to say hi to Hunter Hearst Helmsley and somebody stopped me and said, ‘Don’t go. We’re interested in you.’

“I was about to have my first professional boxing fight. It was scheduled for a month after the WWF hired me,” explained the raven-haired Chyna about how the door to her superstar status in the WWF swung open.

WWF Superstar Wrestler Chyna, 5-10, 196 lbs, Circa 1999

WWF Superstar Chyna, 5-10, 196 lbs

Hard work, determination and belief in herself paved the way to her role as the menacing, glowering Chyna, who patrols the squared circle in front of sell-out audiences everywhere. And don’t think she’s just a ringside ornament with bulging biceps. This 5-10, 196-pound athletic entertainer routinely steps into the ring to mix it up with the behemoths of pro wrestling, sometimes even scooping up her male adversaries and sending them crashing to the canvas with thundering body-slams that show no respect for their gender.

From Fitness to Pro Wrestling

Before her present status as arguably one of the most recognizable female athletes on the planet, Chyna made her mark in the fitness world. At 170 pounds, she dwarfed her fellow competitors.

“The things you saw me do, the fitness shows and even the boxing – I really enjoyed the boxing – were more stepping stones or attention getters. I never really wanted to do them or excel in them, but I knew I could do them and I also knew while doing them that I was out of my element, but I knew people were going to notice me, which in turn would help me get here.”

Chyna’s transition from the fitness stage to the wrestling ring began at Walter Kowalski’s school where she learned the techniques of the pro wrestling business. She felt there was a market for her look and that pro wrestling was the vehicle to introduce that look to the public.

Less than two years after starting school – Valentine’s Day February 14, 1997 – Chyna debuted in the WWF.

Chyna in the WWF

“I knew the WWF was number one. The WCW had always seemed kind of like a fad to me. They were doing very well in the ratings, however, I felt that from what I saw on TV they weren’t using the women the way that I wanted to be used. I saw them being used and spit out very quickly in matches.”

Chyna felt women in pro wrestling could be portrayed as something other than bimbos. She wanted to play a character that could make an impact and the WWF seemed to be on the same wavelength in terms of how they wanted to present her. The strategy obviously works, because in the past year-and-a-half, she’s been the only woman that’s been on every road date in the WWF, an achievement that speaks volumes about the popularity of her brooding character with the massive biceps that would be the envy of most any bodybuilder.

Chyna The Road Warrior

Of course, her superstar status does not come cheap. Life consists of endless travel, impossibly long days extended by the demands of personal appearances and autograph sessions, and trying to find restaurants that serve up a healthy fare. Fortunately, she enjoys the life of a road warrior.

“One day mixes into the next and you go to the hotel room you were in the night before because you’ve forgotten you’re in a new hotel. It’s pretty wild.

“I think it’s very difficult for me being the only woman. There’s a couple of other women, but they’re not really full-time. I do okay because the guys respect me and I get along very well with everybody.

“I’m very straight-laced. I stay out of the way of everything. When most people go down to the bar at night, I go to my room. That way I never get myself into trouble and I can show up to work and be friends with everybody and it never puts me in an awkward situation. And it’s worked.”

To keep her sanity intact, Chyna gets into the gym as much as possible while on the road. On the nutritional side of things, MET-Rx is a constant travel companion.

And of course, the million dollar question: When will we see Chyna in the ring battling one of the WWF femme-fatales in a wrestling match?

“I really don’t want to do that. I don’t think women’s wrestling works. There’s not an availability of women that are good workers. I think that most men, if they watch women in the ring, it’s because they want to see a nice body, not wrestling.

“I didn’t enjoy wrestling and I don’t want to do it, because that would take me from the main event to working with maybe a couple of girls – if we could find them – that are half my size and it would put me on opening card matches. Why would I do that? I don’t think people would want to see me do that, unless I just went out and squashed somebody, which doesn’t help me.”

But again, this is the WWF, where entertainment reigns supreme and where all manner of wild and wonderful antics takes place. Is it so much of a stretch to imagine that the head honchos of the WWF might one day decide that it’s time for this hulking grapplerette to step into the ring and crush someone?

Chyna’s loyal minions eagerly await this display of feminine pulchritude.

WWF Wrestling Superstar Chyna Cover Shot Fighting Females Magazine Spring 1999

Chyna Cover Shot Fighting Females Magazine

Click to see Chyna slideshow photos on YouTube.

Note: I interviewed Chyna for Fighting Females magazine. Original article appeared in the Spring 1999 issue.

Natasha At The Fights – Ring Girl Is A Knockout!

Pre-Fight

It’s 6:30 PM. Twenty-one-year-old Natasha Edwards is an explosion of excitement and nervous energy waiting to happen. It’s easy to see why her coach Lara Toma describes her as a “fireball.”

Arriving in jeans that hug her frame so tightly it looks as if they were painted on and a top that shows off her muscular bikini competitor physique, Natasha Edwards seems tailor made for this gig. Tonight, sporting a tiny bikini that accentuates the muscles and curves of her 38-26-38 physique, she’ll make her debut as a ring girl.

There’s a list of names at the front door that includes Natasha Edwards. These are the ring girls working the February Fury event. But the ticket takers ignore her name. Instead, they’re waiting for “the special girl with the muscles that will be performing in a bikini tonight.” That puts a smile on Natasha’s face.

Natasha goes to work within minutes of her arrival. Video interviews, promo photos and preparing for her solo performance in the ring; after that, meeting the ring crew, media and her fellow ring girls.

On paper, 90 minutes looks like a comfortable stretch of time; in real time at the venue, each minute races by, chasing the preceding one until the clock exhausts its allotment of 90 ticks.

Ring Girl Natasha Edwards hit a biceps pose at February Fury fight night

Ring Girl Natasha

Showtime! Bring on the Ring Girl

It’s 8 PM. Showtime. MC Olesha Karringten steps into the ring, microphone in hand. “Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please.”

But it’s not a fight that starts the proceedings; it’s Natasha Edwards.

Stepping into the ring wrapped in a black bikini that strains to keep her taut, curvy body encased in the fabric, Edwards exudes a mix of confidence, power and sex appeal.

How many in the crowd are hoping for a timely wardrobe malfunction?

Strutting around the ring, the bikini competitor hits a few biceps flexes that elicit shouts of approval from the fight crowd. MC Olesha continues with her introduction. When she booms out Natasha’s stats, the 38-26-38 measurements gain an approving round of applause from the crowd. As Natasha describes it, her sweeping curves and hard muscles form the perfect combination of “murves,” hashtag parlance for muscles and curves.

After an interview at center ring, Olesha asks Natasha to demonstrate what she does on stage at a bikini contest. Natasha obliges, hitting her mandatory bikini poses and throwing in a few extra twists and turns to show off her chiseled physique. The fight crowd approves.

February Fury stretches out until 11:30 PM. Throughout, Natasha lives up to her “fireball” reputation. Each time she steps into the ring, she feeds off the energy of the audience and shows no signs of slowing down.

That’s a wrap

At the end of the evening with the ring coming down around her, she’s still going strong, posing for promotional photos with a clamor of media rushing to get as much with her as they can. Edwards is ready for more, but it’s the ones behind the cameras that run out of energy first. February Fury finally comes to a close for “the special girl with the muscles that will be performing in a bikini tonight.”

Watch Natasha’s debut as a ring girl:

YouTube

Originally published February 2016.

CJ Schouten – Fighter and Self-Described Nerd

 

In the ring, CJ Schouten may be a fighter, but outside the ring, it’s a different story.

“I’m pretty much a huge nerd when I’m not punching things. I absolutely love playing with Lego. I have a rock collection.”

CJ Schouten – Stats

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5-4
  • Fighting Weight: 125 lbs
  • Walking Around Weight: 137 lbs
  • Fight Record: 3-0 (kickboxing)

Were you athletic growing up and if so, what sports?

When I was 7, my brother started Karate. Being the younger sibling thinking he was super cool, I absolutely had to as well. At 11-years-old I entered my first tournament and got hooked on competing. For the next 10 years I heavily competed in Karate, earning my black belt and a place on the Canadian National Team.

What motivated you to start training and eventually step into the ring to fight?

I’ve been in martial arts all my life. It’s more than just loving the sport, its simply a part of me. When I was in post-secondary (first a B.Sc. in Geology from UBC, then an Adv. Dip. In GIS from BCIT) I had to take time off training, and although it was necessary to get me to where I am today, there was always something missing. Just over two years ago, I stepped into Lions MMA and knew I had to get back in the ring. I haven’t looked back since.

What are your goals as a fighter?

“To transition into MMA. To be the best, not just compared to others I compete against, but the best against myself.”

What is your profession/job?

GIS Technician for the City of Vancouver, Park Board.

Favorite female fighter and why?

I actually don’t have one… There are a handful where I can appreciate their skills and respect what they have done to get to where they are but I couldn’t name one as my favorite.

CJ Schouten kickboxer in the ring with arm raised in victory

CJ Schouten for the win

Your home is burning down. You can save only one item. What do you save and why?

“My baby blanket. Yes I said baby blanket. It is pink, fuzzy and has a unicorn on it. I’ve had it all my life.”

Best gift you’ve ever received?

I got a Century Bob XL a few years ago and it’s set up at home. Great for taking things down a notch and working on some specifics.

Anything else that you would like to add?

I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the support of my coaches and teammates at Lions MMA. I am grateful to be a part of this team.

Where can we see more of you?

YouTube for highlights of CJ’s Nov 2017 victory

Instagram – Although this is mainly pictures of my dog. He is my lazy fur baby.

Tiffany Conama – MMA Fighter

Next to Hulk Hogan as “Mr. Nanny,” MMA fighter Tiffany Conama just might be the toughest nanny out there. Considering The Hulkster only played one on the screen, we’re going to have to give the edge to Tiffany.

“I am a Nanny. I have been since I got out of high school. It pays really well and I am my own boss and can make my schedule work around training, which is my priority. I also teach at my gym.”

Let’s start with your stats.

I’m 21, 5-3, about 130lbs everyday weight and fight at 115lbs (strawweight).

What’s your fight record?

4-1.

How did you get your start fighting?

I started jiujitsu when I was 17 – a senior in high school!

It wasn’t until after I started training that I learned about MMA. I had no idea it ever existed, although I do have a vivid memory from about 12 years ago when I was very little, flipping through the TV channels and stopping on a televised fight.

A man was up against the cage and a ton of punches landed on his bloodied face on a yellow canvas. It traumatized me without a doubt. And then years later, here I am doing the exact thing!

But who doesn’t want to travel the world and fight people? I’ve had so many amazing opportunities to travel and that’s always been a huge passion of mine.

Were you athletic growing up?

I was. I did cheerleading and softball, but I wasn’t really passionate about anything until I found jiujitsu. But I had always been aggressive and would play fight with cousins and mom.

 

MMA fighter Tiffany Conama posing in the ring with her championship belt

Tiffany Conama, AMA 29, Vancouver BC 2017

 

What are your goals as a fighter?

To be the best! Top ranked fighter in UFC or Bellator. But I want to just be able to train stress free and not have to work. Just travel, fight and learn! I want to be able to inspire people and entertain them.

Favorite female fighter and why?

Rose Namajunas. She’s always been a favorite of mine even before she won the belt. She’s got the best no fucks given attitude and knows what she wants. We also have a similar body type/fighting style so I get a lot of inspiration from her.

What’s one thing about you that people would be surprised to know?

Probably the fact that I work as a nanny for those who know me as a fighter. For everyone else, the fact that I’m a fighter is definitely something that surprises a lot of people.

What three words best describe you?

Driven, adventurous and a self-sufficient badass.

Most exciting/thrilling thing you’ve ever done in your life?

I’ve done a quite a few things. I must say getting into the cage is the most exhilarating thing I’ve done. There is no other feeling than that walk to the cage and getting your hand raised; knowing everyone is watching you and all the hard work, the hours of training and the sacrifices are all worth it. Just knowing I’m living my dream.

Three things (no people, pets or friends) you can’t live without?

I’m not very materialistic, so I’ll have to say my team/gym, my car and I admit, my phone, considering it’s never out of my sight.

Anything else we should know about you or that you would like to add?

Just that I am extremely thankful and blessed to be able to live my dream and inspire others to do the same. No matter how hard you might think it is, being happy and doing what you love is the most important thing!

Highlights of Tiffany’s fight at AMA29:

YouTube 

Follow Tiffany:

Instagram

Facebook

Facebook Athlete Page

MMA Fighter Jessi Brennan-Dalton

Look out Justin Bieber. MMA fighter Jessi Brennan-Dalton is gunning for you and she’s going to kick your ass! When asked to name an annoying celebrity that she would like to go a few rounds with in the cage, Canadian pop star Justin Bieber topped Jessi’s list.

“I would like to go a few rounds with Justin Bieber. I would put him in a headlock and noogie him until he agreed to treat women better and stop being such a punk.”

Smart money says the MMA fighter over the annoying pop star in two rounds.

Jessi Brennan-Dalton is an up-and-coming MMA fighter with her eye on inking a contract with the UFC by her 25th birthday. Not only can she handle herself in the cage, but she brings a marketable look to the table, a valuable commodity in today’s world of social media likes and sharing.

Following is our Q and A with Jessi.

How tall are you, how much do you weigh and what is your weight class?

I’m 5-4.5, I walk around at about 135 lbs to 140 lbs and my weight class is 125 lbs.

Date of birth?

January 24, 1992

What is your profession?

I’m a dog groomer by day and an MMA fighter by night! I keep the furry, four-legged of Vernon, BC clean and stylish!

Do you remember the first time you were punched in the face and what that was like?

I don’t remember the first time I was punched in the face, but I remember the first time I took a serious hit in the cage. Luckily it was only on the forehead, but it was quite hard and it made me really angry! I tend to be an emotional fighter so all I could think about was getting her back!

When was your first fight, where and what was the outcome?

My first fight was against Veronica Charters in Merritt, BC through the Unified Combat League. I won by TKO in round one.

What is your fight record to date?

My fight record to date is two wins and a draw.

What motivated you to train and become a fighter?

Like a lot of people in this sport, I started off in karate. Some of the boys and I would go to class early and “rough house” on the big crash mat. I heard about an MMA club in town and decided to give it a try and I was hooked!

How easy or hard is it for you to get fights?

It hasn’t been too difficult to find fights so far. I think agreeing on a weight has been the more challenging part.

Are there enough local women out there to keep you fighting in British Columbia?

I’ve only had three fights and I only know of a couple other amateur women in the area. It may be challenging to find fights down the road without having to travel outside of the province.

What is your sports/athletic background?

I’ve been doing sports all of my life. I started off in gymnastics, ballet, tap dancing, and jazz at four-years-old. From there I moved into soccer, volleyball, basketball, and then karate in my last year of high school. When I discovered MMA, I quit karate and started bodybuilding alongside of my new found passion.

Favorite fighters from both the men’s and women’s side?

I don’t really follow men’s MMA, but from what I’ve seen of Chael Sonnen he puts on a good fight, he’s charismatic, and I can appreciate a good sense of humor. For the ladies my favorite fighter is Leslie Smith. I don’t think that girl even knows how to frown, and she’s incredibly tough.

Have you ever had a real life encounter where you had to use your fighting skills?

“I’ve never been in a real life situation where I’ve had to use what I know. The thought does cross my mind though, when I’m possessed by road rage!”

Where can we see more of you?

You can find me on Facebook at my public page, Jessi Brennan-Dalton; make sure to like me!

Do you have a sponsor or anyone in particular you would like to thank?

I would like to thank JH Construction and Excavating LTD. for their contribution. The owner of the company, Jason Hadath, is a valued member of our team at Intrepid MMA and his generosity is greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank Pauline Davidson at Davidson Photography for doing such awesome work with me! Pauline is a great photographer who works in the local circuit. She often volunteers her time at events which shows how truly passionate she is about MMA, fight photography, and supporting the local fighters. I owe my biggest thanks to our coach, Richard Dubois at Intrepid MMA, for making all of this possible for me.

See footage of Jessi fighting in the ring YouTube

Originally published February 2015