Farinaz Lari needs no introduction in the world of Muaythai, she is a sporting legend in her birth country the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Canada where she is working in the sporting industry. Farinaz is known for her truly outstanding sportsmanship, her outgoing and pleasant personality, but in the ring, she is feared for the lightning speed and skills. She is part of the IFMA Athletes’ Commission, continuing to promote Muaythai especially in the Islamic world.
How long have you been training Muaythai?
Since 2008, almost 8 years. It has been an incredible journey in which I have made so many friends from around the globe. Muaythai has given me so much and the journey has only just begun.
What made you want to fight?
I can’t say if anything made me want to fight. I just wanted to be the best in the sport. I am a competitive person, I love the challenge and I respect any athlete regardless of which sport. In muaythai, we respect each other; after the bout we drink each other’s water in the opposite corner to show our respect because regardless of where we come from, we love the same art and sport.
You have become a household name in Iran, North America and Asia. Tell us about your popularity.
Honestly, I still can’t believe how much admiration I’m receiving from athletes in other sports, especially over the past years. Talking about it gives me chills. One of the aspects I truly love in muaythai and WMC and IFMA, is the way they promote gender equality. There aren’t many other sports that have female presidents and the social work muaythai is involved in, in many ways sets it apart from others.
I receive mails from male fans, telling me how much I inspire them on their regular day, telling me how they put my picture on their phone screen, and by looking at it they get inspired to go train!
Where I come from, this is a first and at the same time it reminds me that I must use this status to help others, to inspire them and tell them – if you can dream it, you can do it!
You are a role model for many Muslim female athletes. Muaythai has become very popular in Muslim countries especially Morocco, Turkey and so on. What do you think is the secret of this ever increasing popularity?
Again, I think my story for many is an inspiration. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, full contact for females is not as social respected as other participation in sport. Muslim females are getting more and more involved in sport, some other countries are more traditional than others, but more and more new opportunities are opening and the world is changing. Myself, I am happy that I have done my part to help create some change and I proudly represent my country, my family and myself.
Again gender equality is not just a word in Muaythai, respect is one of the 5 pillars, regspect for one another regardless of race gender or abilities. This is why I am so proud to be part of muaythai. I recently have been competing in Thailand at a WMC/IFMA event, which I won and it was a proud moment when the IFMA General Secretary Stephan Fox came to the fighters room speaking to all of us and I was even ore impressed when I walked in 2 days later into the gym and he was there training with all of us as one of us. I think that is the secret of the organisation from the top to the bottom, it is made out of outstanding personalities who stay in the sport after they retire. Stephan obviously, as former world champion has so much respect but is still so down to earth. This continues with so many female athletes now in executive positions, just look at Sue Latta being the IFMA Vice President or Pernilla Johansson from Sweden, a multiple IFMA World Champion, now the National Federation President of Sweden or Fatima Pinto, gold medal winner of the Combat Games and IFMA champion now the NF President of Norway and the list goes on and on.
What do you believe is your strongest asset in the ring?
Being a south paw, and having the mind set of a south paw, training, movements, setups.
What was your hardest fight and why?
Every fight has different challenges, the preparation that goes in it. There is no such thing as an easy fight. But regardless if mine or my opponent’s hand is raised, the respect is the same. If you never taste defeat, you will never know how sweet winning can be. But in the end of the day it is a sport and losing is part of it.
Tell us your proudest moment as a fighter.
The first time my parents and sisters got to see me fight, and thankfully I won by knockout! So I impressed them even more.
You’re also a very well established personal trainer. Tell us about benefits of cross training with muaythai.
Working on fitness, agility, strength and endurance, besides what I do in specific muaythai training has had a huge impact in my level as an athlete. My strength, and speed has dramatically improved.
The sport of muaythai is evolving like every other science, therefore so many factors that didn’t even come to mind back in the day, but can now be an asset to a competitive athlete.
Also, being a female athlete in my size and doing strength training shows other female athletes, that you don’t necessarily become big and bulky. You will however look better and feel more confident in using your abilities in the ring.
What does the future hold for Farinaz Lari?
I want to make the national team for the upcoming IFMA World Championship and to qualify for the 2017 World Games in Poland, which is under the International Olympic Committee. That is truly one of my goals and also to fight for the professional WMC belt.
I want to continue my journey, I still have some years left, but one thing is for sure, regardless of whether I retire as a champion or not, I will continue to use the power and beauty of sport to do my part to help people, to get fit and do good for society.