It’s not a minor achievement being the first Iranian woman to become the world’s kickboxing champion. Farinaz Lari didn’t start kickboxing until she was 18, due to her family disagreeing with her since they believed martial arts wasn’t suitable for a lady. Nevertheless, she signed up for an all women’s kickboxing class when she got her first paycheque. Fast forward 12 years later and today she not only holds a world championship but is also the co-founder of District Warrior, an institute providing training to amateur and professional Muai Thai fighters with her coach/husband in Vancouver, British Colombia.

What type of obstacles where in your way when you decided to pursue kickboxing and what helped you overcome them?

the first obstacle I would say was training to compete and not having my parents permission.
But once I reached national level, as a female athlete the biggest issue was training so hard for a competition and not knowing if I would be sent at all! It was a constant fear to get dropped from the team entirely because they might have not wanted to spend the budget on women.

On the contrary to popular belief, kickboxing requires a very organized mind. What goes through your mind when you are getting ready to enter the ring?

kickboxing is about discipline. Without it you will be lost in the ring due to all the build up anxiety from fight.
I only think about the “game plan”, what we have practiced and what I need to do in the ring.

In some fields such as fashion, being taken seriously (with some exceptions) has an age limit. Is it like that for kickboxing? Is there a time limit as to when a woman can pursue her dreams in the field of athletics?

I wouldn’t say they won’t take a woman seriously after a certain age… but definitely from a certain age an athlete becomes slower and won’t be as aggressive. It used to be believed the age limit is 30, but I believe that has changed. If you take good care of your body, Eat well, Train well you can last up to 35- 38 years old.

What type of music amps you up for a good workout? Is there any Persian music in your workout playlist?

I usually listen to hip hop, the new playlist on YouTube. So there is a lot of variety. But sometimes there is a song that catches my attention and I listen to it over and over again. Like Bitab, by Bozorg (Persian song).
Yes, I sometimes have Persian songs in my playlist.

If you could go back in time to when you were 18 and just starting martial arts, what advice would you give yourself?

I’d say, don’t get discouraged from a loss. Losing is a learning process. You never learn from winning. You only learn from losing

In your point of view what are the general ingredients for success ?

block the outside world. Don’t listen to negative comments. Don’t let anyone comment about your progress. Be stubborn about your dreams. And be yourself.

Silver medal in 3rd Asian indoor games 2013 – Vietnam // Photo credit: Farshad Abbasi

What is Farinaz like outside of the ring? What are your hobbies?

I’m a very active person. I work long hours. And my hobbies are all sport related, in the winter snowboarding and in the summer swimming. Occasionally like to watch a blockbuster movie and spend time with friends.

 You are the athletic role model for many young ladies, yet at the same time you have a charismatic and stylish aura as well. How do you feel about the stereotypes of masculinity and femininity?

I used to take that as a compliment. I felt women in sports were wrongfully stereotyped as masculine. But in really it’s about the athlete’s weight division and body type. These days a lot of people exercise, so they are more accepting only muscles on women.
But the most important matter for me now, is for women to know that it’s ok to be “masculine” if that’s what it’s called. You are the master of your mind and body. Design it however you wish. Don’t let the outside world tailor your way of living. You can be what you want to be. Look how you want to look. Femininity and masculinity is irrelevant. What is relevant is your goals and you reaching them.

We are aware of how much fashion and trends can excite women, How does it feel when you win a kickboxing match?

until the world championships it was a matter of life and death, every win was the best feeling in the world. And every loss would bring me so down that I would want to quit! But when I won the world championship, a certain humility came with it. Winning is beautiful, it’s joyful, but it’s very short! Then you are back to training hard and working for another goal.

Bronze medal in the 2nd world combat games 2013 – Russia

To get to know more about Farinaz Lari visit her Instagram

unnamed-1 copy Mahtab Abghari  The Contemporary Woman Editor
Mahtab is studying Fashion Communication at Ryerson University, exploring cultural diversity and its influence on individuals. 
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