Behind the Gloves: Virtue Maea

Virtue Maea is a mixed martial artist from Auckland, New Zealand. She represents Team Battle, under tutelage of Coach Tristam Apikotoa and holds a 7W 2L kickboxing record and 1L in MMA.

In her last fight, on 17 October 2020, at Coach Ethan Shepps Knees of Fury events 81st instalment, Maea won the inaugural North Island Super Heavyweight title, and has been NZ IKBF Cruiser Weight champion, and NZ Siam Cup Super Heavyweight champion.

She shared her time with NZ fighter and spoke about her training, the rewards, motivations and challenges for her as a combat sport athlete, and her thoughts on the sport in NZ.

Maea first got into combat sport when she was only 6, joining her family, who were all members of a local Martial Arts club.

“As soon as I was of age (6) my mum enrolled me too. It was my main sport for a few years until I started to focus more on Netball.”

At 20, looking to join a gym that offered fitness classes, she signed up to a martial arts gym that had opened around the corner from her. Maea trained consistently for a bit over a year before having her first fight in 2015.

“I was approached by my coach at the time to fight at an upcoming fight night so I agreed. I thought it was a privilege to be able to represent the gym and also put my skills to the test.”

For the last 3 years, Maea has been training under Coach Apikotoa.

“Most of our training is done out of his garage, the 'dungeon'. Since training under Tristam I've learnt the importance of subtle details. We've made many small adjustments that have made a huge improvement in my overall game. Tristam's ability to break down techniques and teach fighters at any level is what sets him apart.”

Maea reiterates how she has always been motivated by her desire for self improvement, and elaborates on how combat sport allows her to continue to pursue this, when asked about what the most motivating aspect about combat sport was for her.

“I think self-defence is the most important life skill you could learn, especially as a female. Being able to develop my skills as a fighter is something very important to me. Fighting gives me the opportunity to showcase my skills. You always want to do better. The motivation to improve is always there.”

She believes the biggest challenge in the sport (for her) is dealing with injuries.

“Almost all of my injuries have happened in training. You really need to have good training partners you can trust to work with.”

For Maea, the most rewarding part of being a combat sport athlete is developing mental toughness.

“Fighting is 100% mind over matter. The training you go through in preparation to fight is tough. A good coach will know just how much to break you down so you can build yourself back up. Over time I started to notice a shift in my mindset. Training for fights has given me a different outlook on things. I enjoy being challenged and get satisfaction out of completing hard tasks.”

When asked about combat sport in NZ right now and in the next 5 years, Maea says,

“Combat sports in New Zealand is doing great at the moment. New Zealand combat athletes are becoming household names due to their recent global success. There is no doubt local combat gyms have seen an increase in first-timers because of this. The more exposure the sport has, the better. I think the sport will only continue to grow. I think there will be more opportunity for talented New Zealanders to pursue fighting as a lucrative career.”

One of the most propitious and exciting mixed martial artist keep up with, for updates on Maeas combat sport career, follow her on Instagram: @virtuekaylena.

Written by Agent 33