Ruth Ashdown at The Dolphin Gym

A Change Is Going To Come

Muay Thai Boxing is slowly on the rise in Sussex and Ruth Ashdown, the female World Number One, talks to Daniel White about helping its ascension. 

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama

In the world of sport change is inevitable.

As clubs and rules progress parallel with the societal developments and changes we observe in public attitudes, so too must the sports themselves. In this light, there is a growing optimism that a sport such as Muay Thai Boxing is about to make its mark in England as the martial arts to follow.

As boxing continues to decline in popularity, with charismatic figures such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammed Ali and Mike Tyson void from the sport’s spotlight currently, attitudes are changing and martial arts are catching the eye of many people throughout the nation, with specialist sports clubs popping up all over the country.

Yet, despite a growing interest and a healthy spectacle of fights on offer throughout the country, the women’s World Number One female Muay Thai boxer remains largely unknown in her home county of Sussex.

Ruth Ashdown, 34, currently holds eight titles, with her most prestigious the WBC World and International Championships, however, her achievements are largely unrecognised to the majority as they fly quietly under the radar.

Since her interest in the sport started ten years ago, she has been on a mission to increase its popularity and is finally getting somewhere.

“I think people prefer watching it now more than boxing because there’s more action,” Ashdown explained. “Look at the WBC, they used to only sanction boxing, now they sanction Muay Thai. They could have picked any other martial art but they picked Muay Thai because it is getting that much bigger.”

The part-time personal trainer first developed an interest in Muay Thai back in 2003 when she decided to photograph an event before quickly catching the bug.

Her ascension has been rapid but during her rise to the top Ruth has had to overcome a number of obstacles, with her resilience predominant at no time more so than after recovering from two straight title shot defeats to beat two-time world champion Serin Murray in Australia and take home the world title.

Ashdown is now undoubtedly the woman to fight in Muay Thai and, after 25 wins from 32 fights, she doesn’t need to prove it to anyone.

“I think I’ve proved it and some since then,” she laughed. “I won the world title and then I’ve won two more since then and I’ve got a WBC so no one can question me now.”

After a career of hard-work and dedication, the rewards are now evident for the Ashdown.

As the most successful female Muay Thai boxer in the country, she has raised the bar for success in the sport. Despite its relative adolescence as a recognised professional sport in England, Ashdown has been invaluable to the martial art’s long-term future, spreading its appeal nationally while raising England’s profile as a leading exponent of the sport.

“I was over the moon when I won my WBC, I kind of felt I’d done nearly everything I needed to do,” she smiled. “Obviously there’s a few more boxes that need to be ticked but you can’t get much bigger or better than (the WBC Title) so I think I’ve left my legacy, in my club and in Thai boxing.”