In Part Three of this Michele Aboro interview we found out about the Aboro Academy and commendable Aboro Foundation. In this fourth and final part we ask Michele about her health, and we also get her thoughts on what needs to happen in the industry to further growth the female side of combat sports.
Awakening: This next question is a difficult one to ask, but it’s a part of your story none the less and shouldn’t be ignored. In 2012, you had a serious health set back. Can you tell us about that? ...how you coped, and more importantly how you are today?
Michele: Yes in 2012, I went and had a health check and they found a mass in my right breast and discovered that I had stage 3 breast cancer which had travelled through to my Lymph Node in my right arm. It was a big shock, it was a big smack in my face so to speak because the body I had relied on for everything through my whole career, through my whole life in my mind at that moment had let me down. It was a hard blow to get over. An even harder blow was to go back to Europe and have treatment, or to stay here in China and get my treatment done here. I chose for the latter after to speaking it over with my partner. I went through surgery, Chemo and radiation here in China - which I can say was remarkably good.
I’m feeling good, I’ve been two years in recovery, hopefully ten years down the road from now I’ll be talking with you again and saying the same thing that “all’s good in my world, and we’ve opened another six Aboro Academy’s around the world!” let’s see.
After the operation I couldn’t use my right arm for quite a while, and of course after you get your Lymph Node removed from your armpit you end up getting Oedema. I had to go through a lot of swelling in my right arm, I couldn’t use it in the way that I used to be able to, but now things are coming back, things are looking up and my body is getting back to what it used to be and I’m a happy person.
Awakening: Well that’s great to hear the positives and that things are back on the up! …and thank you for answering the question!
Also in 2012, women’s boxing was included in the Olympic Games for the first time, in your home country of England. Although you competed as a professional, what is it like for you to see this landmark event take place?
Michele: It was amazing to see this event take place, and in England… and it was the English girl Nicola Adams that won the gold medal, it was amazing. I think Nicola Adams is a great role model, a very charismatic young lady and very good for the sport. I never believed in my life I would actually see this happen in the Olympics, it was always something I would have loved to have been able to do. I remember when I first started boxing I had no choice, there was no amateur boxing for females at that time. I would have loved to have competed in the Olympics.
I just hope they put all of the weight categories into the Olympics in Brazil and not just select a few, because there are masses of young ladies fighting for a few places on that scene – so that we can actually get to see a whole array of talent in ALL weight divisions.
Awakening: What do you think are the next steps or milestones for women in the martial arts world?
Michele: What can I say to that one? The next steps or milestones.. I think we need to just get more and more female promoters, more female judges and referees, and more females in the government bodies of the sport that can actually push the sport and enable the girls that are coming through to have their rightful place on the stage.
The young ladies that are out there fighting and competing at the moment need to keep on doing what they’re doing, keep their heads down, keep working hard. Hopefully the pay for these young ladies, as you see with Ronda Rousey and so on is getting better and better. In the long term I hope these young ladies are able to just do this sport instead of having to have two jobs next to it, no sponsorship. It’s just a chosen few at the moment that are able to do this, but slowly and surely if women keep pushing through in the right direction there will be more and more!
Awakening: That’s interesting you say that about judges, promoters and referees. We’ve had several come forward to us asking if we list these persons in our athlete database. We do, and after hearing your thoughts on the importance of this we should probably think of a way to help promote this area of the industry!
What are some of your most important pieces of advice for people looking to train and compete in martial arts?
Michele: As a female I would say find yourself a trainer that looks at you as an athlete and not as a male or a female, which doesn’t play a role. So they aren’t training you differently, and have respect for you and push you all the way. Fend for yourself too you know, you need to push yourself like any other person would push themselves, it doesn’t matter if your male or female, you should set yourself goals for the future and push for them. If a door closes in your face, look for that next door that will open. I left England as one of the first females to go abroad and start competing in the Netherlands, and in the beginning people said “don’t go”. I went, and it enabled me to train with the greats like Ivan Hipolito, Ernesto Hoost, Peter Teijsse, Clyede Petres, Kamal Chabrani, Michael Babb, Affie Shalom and Regilo Aaron, Remeo Kensmil a number of great Dutch fighters that were out there, so don’t take no for an answer…. Keep knocking on them doors and keep pushing forward.
Awakening: Well thank you so much for such an insightful and interesting interview! We are sure that our audience agree with us when we say that you are one incredible lady! Thanks again!
To close out the interview, is there anyone you would like to mention or thank?
Michele: I would to thank all of my trainers that trainered me: Lincoln Boney, Johan Vos, Jan Plas, Leonardo Pijetraj,Torsten Smith, Micheal Timm, for enabling me to get to the standard that I did and all of the people that I trained with, all of the guys out there that pushed me, and believed in me and the people that helped me get through, thank you!