Behind the Gloves: Baby ‘Pitbull’ Nansen

Baby Nansen is a professional mixed martial artist from South Auckland, New Zealand who trains out of City Kickboxing under coaches Doug Viney, Eugene Bareman, Mike Angove, Tristam Apikotoa and Steve Fowler, and has had 57 fights to date. Winning more than 5 kickboxing and Muay Thai titles, Nansen is also New Zealand’s second highest ranked female boxer and PBCNZ champion.

She took time out for New Zealand Fighter, and talked about growing up around combat sport, her coaches and training, and shared her thoughts on the sport in New Zealand right now.

It is no surprise that what initially got her into the sport was her family, Nansen comes from a family of mixed martial artists. Her first coach, and sister, Victoria Nansen, is a 5 sash black belt in Kung Fu and former IFMA Silver medallist, and her brother, Antz Nansen, is former WKBF World Champion, who competed for Tai Brothers, run by Jordan Daniel and Ralph Tai, before he moved to ETK.

“Born and raised into combat. First watching sister, Victoria, and dad break 12 tiles and demonstrate kungfu sword flag and other type of combats involved with Kungfu. My father retired and my sister and brother then branched to kickboxing.”

Nansen has fought in multiple countries, since she had her first fight 13 years ago, which was inspired by athletes like Shane ‘Choppa’ Chapman, Jan Antonic, Doug Viney and Michelle Preston.

“As soon as I knew women could join, I worked hard to quit smoking and joined my sister at SMAC gym with Coach Paul Davidson. My first fight,13 years ago, I got the biggest hiding haha combat is my very first sport, I've never been interested in any sport until I came across the fights back in the day at Ocean City run by Sifu Lam, thats where the greats fought”

When asked about her coaches, Doug Viney and Eugene Bareman, and training at City Kickboxing, Nansen says, “I love this man (Coach Doug Viney) he is real, passionate, knowledgeable and done great things for this country. K1 Champ and Boxing Medallist. I look up to him as a world class fighter and world class coach.

Eugene he's the man too. Both men have the same qualities and traits, and I respect them both a lot, as well as Twister (Tristam Apikotoa), Mike (Angove), Steve (Fowler), etc. Good bunch of fight family I'm honoured to train with, and know.

The most rewarding aspect of being a combat sport athlete for Nansen is stepping in the ring, and the process leading up to it.

“The fun begins then. The preparation and process is the challenge I go through and complete with all of my heart and dedication and effort at 100%. Even when I'm not so great on a day, I push 100%, there is no other choice. My fight camp is extreme, pushing me physically and mentally.

Winning the battle within myself and in the gym, connecting with strategies, with my Coaches, eating well and making weight is the real fight. Getting in the ring is the fun part, it's one of the most rewarding things in life I'm forever grateful for.”

Nansen acknowledges how far the sport has come, when asked about combat sport in New Zealand right now.

“Its grown so much. We had the greats who put us on the map but with the rapid MMA growth we have UFC, and the talented stars coming from City Kickboxing. We are known to be have the best fighters in the world right here in NZ thanks to Izzy (Israel Adesanya), Dan (Daniel Hooker), Kai (Kara France), Shane (Young), Genah Fabian, Hemi Ahio, Junior Fa, Nort (Beaucamp), Raihau (Lehartel), Sigi (Pesaleli), (to name a few), we have all the world class fighters right here and I believe NZ fight scene will continue to shine around the world with these beauties leading the way for the rest of us.”

Nansen is sponsored by Redrat Streetwear, Farley Concrete Layers, St Hitec Ltd, Nz Boxer And JFK International and Fightface Mouthguards, and is in the main event at Art of Wars 12th event against Melody Downs (Team Downs/Core MMA), which is hosted by City Lee Gar gym and takes place at Te Atatu Peninsula Community Centre on Saturday, August 8.

She is also scheduled to fight on September 19, for WBO Women’s Asia Pacific Lightweight title, and in November, on Vendetta events 8 woman elimination match, where fighters square off to see who the last woman standing is.

When she is not training for her fights, and spending time with her twin daughters, Nansen is found managing, training and coaching at SMAC gym, the gym she first started training at, which she runs with Sam Hill, her partner and former 68kg King in the Ring champion.

One of the most active, inspiring and entertaining fighters in New Zealand to follow, to keep up with Nansen, her fights and SMAC gym, follow @baby_nansen and @SMAC_Gym_NZ on Instagram.

Written by Agent 33