Debutant Gannaway thinks big

Kirstie Gannaway (above).

If Kirstie Gannaway hadn't attended her elder brother's boxing match at age 15, she would probably have been a designer.

And "it would be a shame".

After all, the 23-year-old Singaporean has been dubbed by One Fighting Championship founder Victor Cui as a potential world champion for her ferocious and speedy punches, honed from her eight years in boxing.

But for the freelance graphic designer and assistant instructor at Evolve MMA gym, boxing gave her the confidence and discipline in her teenage years where she was still searching for her identity.

"I took up boxing at my brother's gym and I haven't stopped since... it was the first time I felt fit and strong, and gave me a subconscious kind of confidence," said Gunnaway, who added that she had always been a tomboy, but more interested in art and music than sports as a child.

She trained intensively on her speedwork after being comprehensively beaten in a sparring match with a professional boxer in 2007, spending about five months researching and training on her own.

She then added muay thai and Brazilian jujitsu before being drawn to MMA because of its free-flowing nature, as opposed to the highly-technical nature of boxing.

"I like that you have many more options (in MMA) and you have so much more to look out for," Gannaway said.

"I found that to be such a challenge and I appreciated it because I felt like I was stuck at the same level for some time."

She will make her One Fighting Championship debut next month at the Singapore Indoor Stadium against Malaysian Adek Omar, and the Singaporean has big plans beyond that bout.

She said: "If I want to do something, I want to be the best... I definitely want to achieve big things."