The girl packs a punch

2014-01-16 : 16:28
Road FC ring girl Song Ga-yeon is hoping that her kick-boxing skills will allow her to have a successful career as a fighter in mixed martial arts.
/ Courtesy of Road FC

Road FC ring girl Song Ga-yeon is serious about pursuing a fighting career

By Jung Min-ho

Mixed martial arts (MMA) has become so popular that it’s not only the fighters who are becoming mainstream, it’s the ring girls.

Now, Song Ga-yeon, probably Korea’s most famous ring girl, is attempting the ultimate crossover. The baby-faced 19-year-old has become famous for walking in the ring half-naked and holding numbers. In the near future, she expects to be entering the ring with the intention to deliver pain.

She has spent the past several months training vigorously to pursue a fighting career with her current employer, Road FC, the country’s largest MMA promotion. Road FC expects that Song’s first fight will be scheduled for sometime this summer.

Perhaps, Song was never meant to remain mere eye-candy. She is a trained kick-boxer with an amateur record of 5-0. She is a graduate of the Busan Guard High School, a martial arts school for students seeking security and bodyguard jobs, where she learned the basics of taekwondo, judo and kendo.

Song Ga-yeon has probably been Korea’s most famous ring girl. She would rather be remembered as a mean fighter in the octagon.
/ Courtesy of Road FC

Of course, she has a long way to go to acquire the skills to survive and thrive in the country’s highest level of combat sports. However, she has no intention of being just a ratings gimmick.

"I appreciate all the attention I am getting, because I expect to be successful as a fighter. Honestly, walking around the octagon ring in skimpy clothing really isn’t my style,’’ said Song in an interview with The Korea Times.

"I embrace the expectations. I am going to prove that I can kick and fight. I am confident that I will impress in my debut, which will be on television, and convert all the haters into fans.’’

Born into a family that loves sports, she was a sprinter for her elementary school and learned golf from her father. But she stood out as a girl who wanted to learn combat sports. She had a hard time convincing her parents to send her to the Busan Guard High School.

"The training in high school wasn’t enough. I still wanted more. So I decided to go to the kickboxing gym after school,’’ she said.

"When I saw a bunch of guys hitting the punch bags, something shook my heart profoundly. It started beating fast. From that day, I spent six to seven hours every day after school at that kickboxing gym.’’

The coach at the gym was impressed by Song’s drive and improving skills and was soon featuring her in fights. She won them all, but also felt that she needed better competition.

"I had trouble finding opponents since there were very few female fighters,” she said.

“Sometimes I had to fight guys because I couldn’t find any women. In fact, two wins out of my total five came from men. I wasn’t afraid of them because I trained with guys anyway. Some still don’t believe that I beat men in a combat sport, but it’s true. Look it up.’’

After graduating high school, Song moved to Gumi City, North Gyeongsang Province, and studied security service at Kyungwoon University. Song never thought a career in combat sports would be an option, so she applied for Special Warfare Command to become a soldier. However, the command rejected her because she had a tattoo on her waist.

“Then, magically I found an MMA gym. A coach there allowed me to practice and he introduced me to Jung Mun-hong, president of Road FC. Everything happened so quickly,” she said. “I came to Seoul and met famous fighters like Seo Doo-won. It was really awesome.”

Song said she was devastated when Road FC last year first offered her a ring girl job. However, she eventually accepted the role because she wanted to create a fan base to follow her when she starts fighting. Her looks quickly gave her fame. Song believes her fighting skills will give her longevity.

 “The decision to be a ring girl was for myself, not for anyone else, because I knew that the combat sport can grow more, which will get me more athletes to fight and fans to watch my bouts,” she said.

She defined her style as a “striker” and said she admires Cat Zingano.

Song’s first pro fight in the under-50-kilogram class is expected to be “sometimes this summer,” but she said nothing is certain yet.

The great publicity makes her feel “good, but also pressured.” She said she wants to win her first fight “so badly.”

“I’m full of energy,” she said. “And I haven’t started yet.”