Who's The Boss? Interview with Daria Smith
Early morning, Daria ‘The Boss’ Smith, a Muay Thai fighter from Auckland can be found training. This is a world away from her former years growing up in the concrete jungle of Moscow.
Daria is one of four women from New Zealand and Australia fighting in the the upcoming Oceania Super 4 Muay Thai Queen event in Auckland on the 25th of April, battling for the Oceania Muay Thai Crown.
‘The Boss’ has quickly made a name for herself within the Muay Thai circuit, racking up 15 contests in her three years fighting. Currently at the top of her game Daria is racking up fights, with 10 in 2014 and two already in 2015. She has topped off this busy schedule with a win in the 58.2 kilogram ISKA South Pacific Belt in Sydney last November, becoming the 2014 ISKA South Pacific Champion.
Surprisingly, Daria is relatively new to Muay Thai, beginning in January of 2012. Finding a lack of direction in her gym routine she discovered kickboxing.
“my husband suggested I try out [a] kickboxing gym… He thought I wouldn't like it and proving him wrong was not an easy task… Needless to say I fell in love with Muay Thai.”
Daria’s love of Muay Thai demands a rigorous daily regime, starting at 5am. Arriving at the gym at 5:30am she begins with a 5km run.. This is followed by an intensive one hour training session involving anything from weights to swimming often staying longer to work on her fighting drills, footwork and to rehab injuries. An office job fills Daria’s day and after work it is back to the gym for further training from 6pm to 8:30pm.
In the final weeks before a fight her training sessions become shorter and higher in intensity to mimic the energy output required to fight in the ring.
“It sounds full on but I love it!” Daria says.
Daria’s diet is geared toward maintaining a fighting weight. Working with her nutritionist nothing is restricted although she tries to eat healthy. Her diet concentrates on eating foods that provide enough energy to train and are easy to prepare. This is important as trying to lose weight while already on an intense training schedule is difficult. Closer to competing she eats clean to maximise her energy levels at training.
“I do eat chocolate and ice cream and burgers but in moderation.”
With her demanding training schedule and diet, Daria admits it is difficult to strike a balance between her family, social life and, fighting career.
“I have absolutely no time for anything else, even a haircut… I try to spend all my free time with my family… I would much rather build towers out of Mega Blocks with my son than go out for a drink at the pub.”
Her determination to pursue a career in Muay Thai makes these sacrifices possible. Daria’s family combined with her fierce competitiveness provide her with the inspiration and motivation she needs to continue to do battle in Muay Thai competitions and offers hope for the future.
“My ultimate goal is to make fighting my career so that I do have more time with my family. When it does get tough on some days, I focus on that. It’s hard now but it won’t always be.”
New Zealand was not always Daria’s home. She comes from Russia and grew up in Moscow. At age 19 she decided New Zealand was an interesting place and flew 30 hours to a country she knew very little about. She is still here and 10 years later is well and truly settled with her family.
“I can safely say it was a good move, this is my home now.”
The popularity of womens Muay Thai is constantly expanding in New Zealand, Daria puts this growth down to the challenge to established stereotypes in a sport that has previously been dominated by males.
Daria attributes the number of female sports role models in New Zealand as the reason for the growth in popularity in Muay Thai. An increase media exposure of international female athletes is inspiring women giving them the belief they can also compete.
“[They] are not just doing well for a female but can give any man a run for their money”
Despite it’s new popularity there is still a shortage of women fighters in the Muay Thai circuit. A lack of experienced female fighters in specific weight classes makes it difficult for competitors to gain valuable ring experience. Although Daria looks at the situation with optimism.
“we are slowly getting there with plenty of up and coming talent currently on the scene.”
She credits organisations like Lethal Ladies with helping to change this situation. Lethal Ladies promote womens Muay Thai throughout New Zealand, running shows and offering open sparring sessions for women of all levels.
Looking to the future of womens Muay Thai Daria says.
“I truly hope more women will get involved and keep at it.”
“It’s a domino effect. Once one of us [women] break into Muay Thai or any other male sport, the rest will follow.”