Russia’s Thai boxing champion, Anastasia Yankova, says her many interests outside the ring make her an even tougher opponent.
Appearances can be deceptive, especially with the likes of Anastasia Yankova, who studies clothing design and psychology, and loves to draw and read.
But when she gets into the ring, she becomes a fierce fighter not to be trifled with.
Crowned Russian Thai boxing champion in March, 2011, Anastasia came to the sport after eight years of karate and fell in love with a discipline held as one of the most aggressive martial arts.
“My mother didn't take it very well at first,” Yankova told RT. “She was relieved when I stopped fighting, that there was no more karate. And then I started all over again. But she's fine with it now and will come to my fights.”
The 21-year-old’s love of fine art led her to design her own tattoo. It’s a dragon, which she believes symbolizes and inspires her as a fighter.
The Russian considers her interest in psychology as another important thing helping her win.
“There's more to sport than just the body,” she explained. “It's mostly about what's inside you. And winning is about 50 per cent your physical shape, and 50 per cent what's in your head. There are many good athletes who, once in the ring, start feeling sort of lost, because they’re people-watching, because they feel the pressure. And there's no sign of the skills they demonstrate during training. You have to learn to overcome it.”
Yankova has so far won all three of her W5 professional fights, with the latest success coming against Belarusian Marina Monako.
The Russian showed her class from the first bell. And, though her rival did retaliate, she simply couldn't rock Anastasia, who prevailed in all three rounds.
But the winner wasn’t satisfied with her performance after the bout.
“I'm not pleased with myself, I know what I can do,” Yankova explained. “I see myself practice and then I see the difference when I'm competing – and it's sad to realize that I can do better."
Despite remaining a pioneer in the sport, Anastasia is keen to share her enthusiasm and belief to help inspire others to follow their dreams.
“Come on, you guys, It's never too late to start anything,” she said. “If you want to do something – no matter how old you are – go and try it out. If you don't like it, you can always stop. But I think it's a sin not to try something you really want to do.”