The 2019 IFMA Asian Muay-Thai Championship was a historic event for India. The campaign saw the nation pick up an unprecedented 12 Medals and finishing eighth in the overall standings.
One of the medal winners that stole the show at the event was 14-year-old Dhwani Advani. The Mumbai-based fighter clinched the silver in the junior 14-15 female Youth Category for 60KGs even after her weight class was merged with a bigger one.
For someone that started Muay-Thai just over a year back, Dhwani has come a long way. Prior to her IFMA Asian Championship Silver Medal win, she had swept the medals at the Maharashtra Muay-Thai championship where she secured medals even in the Senior Category. She had also won medals at the CISCE National Boxing Championship and School Games National Boxing Championship and underlined that she is someone to look out for.
After her Silver medal win at the Asian Muay-Thai Championship, we managed to catch up with her for an interview where she opened up about how she started Muay-Thai, the support from her family and coaches, her experience at the Asian Championship, future goals and more. Below is what she had to say:
How and why she started Muay-Thai
Dhwani Advani: So I actually started Muay-Thai just a little more than a year back. I actually used to play Taekwondo since I was 5 years old. I also learnt Judo simultaneously which was a compulsory activity at school. I would often lose points and even get disqualified during my inter-class Taekwondo tournaments for hitting too hard or on the face because it would be semi-contact. I was a naturally aggressive fighter and that didn’t work there. In 5th std, I got my black belt in Taekwondo, in 7th std I started playing interschool Taekwondo competitions for the first time and I did well, but I knew I could do a lot better if we had regular training focusing on sparring because I used to train Taekwondo only twice a week. So, it wasn't enough and also I wanted to explore and learn something new. So in halfway through 8th std, my parents came across Bala Sir's [Balkrishna Shetty] MMA class and we tried it out. They also thought it would be great for me to be able to learn how to implement both Taekwondo and Judo. So, that is when I started learning Muay Thai.
The support and motivation from home
Dhwani Advani: My family and friends have always been supportive of my training. I simultaneously handle my studies also, so they're satisfied. Only since Muay Thai is a full contact sport they're constantly worried about me getting injured, especially because my Dad's a doctor. But they've always supported me. In fact, my Dad makes it a point to try to come for all of my fights.
How Muay-Thai changed her as a person
Dhwani Advani: Muay Thai had quite an impact on your life. Physically, definitely it makes you fitter and builds up strength and stamina. But it became such an integral part of my life, because you commit to the sport and you need to give it your all and show up for training every day. Also, I changed from my Taekwondo style to Muay Thai, which was a big change but it better suited my aggressive style. It’s a beautiful sport because you have 8 limbs to attack with, you need to think and play and it’s about both power and speed. Muay Thai honestly made me so happy and it gives me this sense of satisfaction. And, I just knew that this is what I want to do.
Dream come true moment at Asian Muay-Thai Championship
Dhwani Advani: First of all, it was a dream come true to represent India and I feel so happy and honoured. I was extremely excited to fight. Usually, such a big platform and crowd, it makes you nervous and jittery. And of course, I was nervous too, but at the same time, I had been just so confident and so excited. So I played finals against Afghanistan, which, unfortunately, I lost. I fought to a senior and very experienced opponent. That fight was a very important experience for me. Fighting with a better opponent taught me a lot and now I know what to work on. Before the fight, going in, I just remember being so excited and confident and just happy.
The most memorable moment of her career came at the State Championship
Dhwani Advani: My most memorable moment was the 2019 Senior Muay Thai State Championship. I'm 14 but since there was no one in junior category, I fought in the senior category. I beat the likes of Sannica Patil, a pro-MMA fighter who was much older and experienced than me. That felt great and it gave me confidence that I can do this. I got the Best Female Fighter among the seniors, so that was amazing.
Because that’s the dream
Dhwani Advani: Losing and getting silver has just made me more determined than ever to get gold the next time. I got a great experience here and I know that I have a lot to work on. So I want to work harder than ever and the next time I fight, I want to make sure to win. Now, the next big goal is to get gold at the 2020 Youth World Championship at Malaysia, and I'm going to work harder than ever for that. I am 14 right now, so I have 3 more years to play in the junior category, I want to make my mark and by the time I become a senior, I hope that I can make us even more proud! I think that with Bala Sir as our coach, and with this amazing new facility at One Punch and the kind of training that we are doing, India's going to make its mark in the Muay Thai world it shouldn't be long before we get the first Indian World Champion. Because that's the dream.