Mia Kang, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model-turned-fighter is taking the world by storm with her love of martial arts
The award-winning Korean-British beauty who sports a growing following on Instagram with more than 100K followers recently won her first professional Muay Thai fight. Kang talks victory, body image and confidence.
YOU SHOT TO FAME WHEN YOU WON LAST YEAR’S SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT ISSUE’S MODEL SEARCH. WHAT DID THAT MEAN TO YOU?
For me it was achieving the unachievable. Not only was it the first job I booked upon moving to the US, but it meant a lot more than that to me. I grew up overweight and very bullied in school, and when I was 13 I halved my own weight and got scouted as a model. On my wall was the Tyra Banks cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit – the one where she is wearing the polka dot bikini. That was my constant reminder day in and day out that one day things would be better. So to be gracing the pages of SI Swimsuit alongside all of these iconic women is incredible and means more to me than people will ever know.
DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN 3 WORDS
I’m too complex.
THE CHARACTERISTIC YOU LIKE LEAST IN YOURSELF
I wouldn’t say that there is one particular characteristic but I am very self-aware and try to remain that way. I am aware of my shortcomings and flaws and embrace them.
YOU RECENTLY HAD YOUR FIRST MUAY THAI FIGHT. HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR THAT?
I picked up a boxing coach in New York a few months before the fight to improve my hands and was training a few hours a day, 6 days a week. Three weeks before the fight I went to Thailand and was training in my camp – so that’s twice a day, 5 hours per day.
YOU WON. WAS IT A TOUGH FIGHT? HOW DID YOU WIN?
Round 3 TKO via multiple punches to the head.
WILL YOU FIGHT AGAIN?
WHAT DID YOUR MODELING AGENCY THINK OF YOUR FIGHT?
I’m very lucky to have a team that not only embraces my love of Muay Thai, but fully encourages it.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG?
That changed frequently. Everything from a ninja turtle to a rapper to a lawyer to a private banker to the wife of the head of the mafia.
YOU’RE VERY OPINIONATED WHEN IT COMES TO BODY IMAGE.
It’s overdue that the media start representing a healthier body image. I advocate size diversity, representing all sizes not just either ends of the spectrum. Times are changing.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
I couldn’t possibly answer that, but some advice I was recently given by a professional MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter before my fight was “be cool and have fun”. That really resonated with me, as simple as it seems.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH CRITICISM?
All criticism is unretained information. I don’t need validation from people to be secure with myself.
FAVORITE HOLIDAY DESTINATION
Anywhere with warm weather and a beach.
BEST PLACE ON EARTH
In the arms of someone who truly loves you.
3 THINGS YOU WOULD PACK
Headphones, lip balm, facial mist.
YOUR TRAVEL ATTIRE
Sweatpants and a hoodie.
FAVORITE ‘ME’ TIME ?
Sheet face mask, lit candles and trashy TV shows.
YOUR BEAUTY SECRET
Keep your skin hydrated at all times!
FOOD YOU CRAVE
I eat what I want. Its all about moderation – life is too short.
WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT?
The drive to reach my potential.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
People. Seeing what other people have done with their lives and being inspired by greatness throughout history.
ON YOUR PLAYLIST
Fluctuates a lot throughout the day depending on my mood. This morning I was listening to D’Angelo, and this afternoon I was listening to Rap Caviar.
THE BOOK/MAGAZINE ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
SOMETHING YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT