Sydney pro fighter Kayla Nassis inspires young women to take a swing at fighting

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For 23-year-old Kayla Nassis, she’s always hoped to turn her dreams into a lifestyle.

The Sydneysider from Cronulla is a pro Muay Thai fighter and told The Greek Herald her fighting journey began when she was only 13 years old.

“I started off with a type of martial arts called Hapkido, which is like a mix between karate and taekwondo,” Kayla said.

“I continued it for seven to eight years until I got my black belt. Then I decided to move into Muay Thai, which is a bit more of a physical competition kind of sport that originated in Thailand. It’s very similar to kickboxing, except you also use your elbows and knees.”

Destined to be a fighter

Kayla said she always wanted to be a fighter.

“I saw the value that it gave me and loved the discipline of having to train every day and the rewarding feeling I get when I do it,” she said.

“I get to push myself too. Now I can’t really like imagine my life without it.

Kayla Nassis.
Kayla Nassis.

“I also didn’t know anyone who had pursued fighting before, so it felt nice to take a different path than say my parents and other families did and to find so much joy in it.”

The 23-year-old said to commence Muay Thai, there was a certain age requirement.

Kayla Nassis.
Kayla Nassis training.

 “I waited until I turned 18 to commence Muay Thai,” Kayla said.

“Within a year I had already turned pro, and I had my first fight in March 2022. At first, it didn’t feel like I was at that level, but I had been training nonstop from when I first started, so I improved pretty quickly.”

Student by day, fighter by night

Kayla trains more than 20 hours per week, as well as studying engineering at the University of Sydney.

“When I’m training for a fight, during fight camp, most days I will be training twice a day. I’d do my Muay Thai training every night and then I do extra training in the morning like strength and running,” Kayla explained.

Kayla Nassis.
Kayla Nassis fighting.
Kayla Nassis.
Focused on the fight.

“Outside of fight camp, I’m training Muay Thai every day, and most sessions are 2 to 2.5 hours each, so it’s quite a lot.

“This year I also went back to full time uni as well, so I’ve kind of got to balance that, as well as work a couple days a week, so I’ll be able to live.”

Kayla said although there is not enough money in the sport as of yet, she hopes to gain some sponsors this year to continue pursuing her dream as a pro fighter.

Women in sport

Although there aren’t as many women involved in Muay Thai, Kayla said it was definitely growing.

“I think that a lot of women may feel intimidated or too scared to start training, which I totally get, so that’s definitely something that I want to show to other young women, that you really can do anything you put your mind to,” she said.

Kayla Nassis.
Showing her strength.

“It doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it seems and there’s lots of opportunities out there for young women as it is becoming bigger.

“For me, starting at a young age definitely helped me build a lot of confidence in knowing I could do these kinds of things and that’s one of the main things you can gain as a woman starting in this sports industry.”

Kayla said she encourages all young women interested in fighting to be brave and put themselves out there.

Future plans and life advice

The 23-year-old fighter said she had big plans over the next few years, including completing her degree and receiving a state or national title in Muay Thai.

“I would also love to fight internationally a little bit more,” Kayla said.

“I fought in Thailand a couple of times in the past, which was amazing, and on a professional level which was actually on TV too, and I just hope I can do that again.

“My end goal would be to gain a world title or to fight on ONE Championship, which is probably like the pinnacle of Muay Thai.”

In 2023, Kayla had 3- 4 fights at a professional level, and in 2022, she fought in 8 different fights as an amateur.

“This year, I’m planning to have around four to six fights,” she said.

“My next one is in six weeks on the 15th of March.


“It’ll be my first fight since last May because I had one cancelled in December. It’s been a while out of the ring, so I’m really excited to get back into the fold.”

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