Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Prized Pinay Fighter - More about FilAm Christine Toledo

By Joseph Pimentel Asianjournal.com
SHE was set to fight in the undercard of the World Muay Thai Championships at the Las Vegas Hilton last January 12. However, an eye injury prevented FilAm Christine Toledo from avenging one of her two losses in her career, this one against Maiko Katsuyama.

Toledo is disappointed at the Nevada Athletic Commission. "They never had a problem with me before," she said. "I fought with contacts all the time but I guess, they are stricter now."

To be able to fight in Nevada and California again, Toledo needs to undergo refractive eye surgery, a procedure for military personnel.

Killer looks

Looking at Toledo, one would think she's a typical regular gal. Wearing blue jeans, a black leather jacket and sporting glasses, she looks like the Pinay version of singer Lisa Loeb. But don't let her looks fools you.

Toledo may look meek on the outside but deep down, she is a Muay Thai Champion ready to kick butt.

"My co-workers get surprised when they find out that I'm a Muay Thai expert," she said in an interview with the Asian Journal inside the Planet Hollywood Casino in Las Vegas. "They joke with me all the time. They say, 'If I ever get in trouble, you'll be my bodyguard. I'm taking you with me to the parking lot."

"I like that," she admits. "I like seeing people's reaction when they find out [I'm a fighter]."

Toledo works as a marketing manager at an energy company in Las Vegas during the day. She moonlights as a Muay Thai fighter sporting a professional record of 11 wins, 2 losses and 4 KO's at night.

The 30-year-old Pinay enjoys her anonymity. But get her inside the ring, and she's a completely different person. Her opponents call her the "blade."

Muay Thai is a combination of kickboxing and boxing which includes the use of the elbows and knees.

"I'm known for my elbows," she said.

Toledo has fought professionally for the past eight years in the US and around the world. She has fought in Thailand, Great Britain and hopes to one day compete in front of her kababayans in the Philippines. She trains everyday after work for three to four a hours a day.

The World International Kickboxing Association (WIKBA) ranks her anywhere between the No. 1 and No. 3 female in her weight division in the world. She holds the World Kickboxing Association (WKA) US Title and another world title. She has also been featured in a documentary and reality television series about Muay Thai.

Despite all of her accomplishments, Toledo said there is still more to be done.

"The titles are great but I want to be recognized by the larger governing bodies," she said.

It's this goal that drives her.


Toledo said her greatest source of inspiration is her mother. Born in Norfolk, Virginia and raised in San Diego, Toledo said that she grew up in a typical Filipino household.

"My brothers and I were Navy, military brats," she said. "My dad was in the Navy and my mom was a nurse."

When her parent divorced, her mother raised them by herself.

"It was tough for her," she said. "It was hard for me to adjust to that."

Growing up, Toledo's mother did not allow her to participate in rigorous sports activity.

"She wanted me to be the girl that she wanted me to be. I did tap dancing, played the piano and hula but I wanted to do gymnastics and karate. I was a real active kid. My mom wanted me to grow up a certain way."


It wasn't until college at San Francisco State University and an old boyfriend that she pursued training in the martial arts.

She began Muay Thai training with instructor Kru Sam from Team USA in the Bay Area. Her trainers said that she had a natural talent so she began to train harder.

"This is something that I've always wanted to do," she said. "Muay Thai became a passion."

In 2002, she scored her first win against Jennifer Kelly by unanimous decision at the Hollywood Park Race and Casino in Los Angeles.

Her mother, who had disapproved of her martial arts venture, attended the event.

"She wasn't happy with the idea but she came to my first fight," said Toledo. "She became more comfortable once she saw how I handled myself in the ring."

"It's a rush," Toledo said. She added there's nothing like being inside the ring.

Toledo racked up eight wins in a row before a knee injury led to her first defeat. She tore her ACL on her left knee when training for a match against Katsuyama. The knee eventually gave out on her during the fight and the referee stopped the match.

Toledo is now getting back into gear since suffering that knee injury in 2005.

After losing a tough match in Thailand, Toledo is on a three consecutive victories streak.

She carries with her, life lessons that her mother taught her.

"Looking back, I get my drive from my mom," she said. "Everything that I've been doing not just fighting is from my mom. I just look back at how hard working she was taking care of me and my brothers growing up."

Toledo plans to have a busy fight schedule this year. She knows that she's getting older but she wants to finish her career off strong. She added that once she has corrective eye surgery, she'll have fights lined up in February and May.

She hopes to encourage more Filipino women to join Muay Thai.

"Filipino women don't have to be typical housewives who just sit around and take care of their home," she said. "Women can do [martial arts] too." (AJ)


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