January Rule Your Nation Awards

Welcome to the first Rule Your Nation Awards of 2016! We have a fighters’ edition this month including two professional boxers, an olympian judoka, and a Muay Thai specialist who has practiced  an encyclopedia’s worth of martial arts.  First, introducing professional boxer, Melissa Mcmorrow.

Melissa Mcmorrow


Where did you grow up?

I grew up in San Jose, California.

Were you an athlete growing up?

Yeah, I played soccer since I was eight years old. I was on the diving team from seventh grade until my junior year of high school. But really the one I liked the most was soccer growing up. I didn’t start boxing until my 20s.


What made you start boxing?

I was just looking for a way to stay in shape that was fun.  A random friend from school brought me to a sparring event, and I just loved it. I’ve always been competitive, so I just wanted to compete. The Bay Area has a lot of gyms, so I started amateur and went from there.

What was your amateur record?

My amateur record was 15-5. I won the national golden gloves in 2007, and I placed second in the USA national tournament in 2005 and 2006.


When did you know you were good enough to go pro?

After I won the National Golden Gloves, I knew I had what it takes to go pro. They didn’t have women’s boxing in the Olympics until 2012, and in 2006 women’s boxing was brought to the Olympic committee and they rejected it. When they rejected it again in 2008, a lot of people decided they weren’t going to wait for it to be accepted in 2012. I went pro because I was running out of people to fight because a lot of people jumped  to the pros.

Olympic boxing wasn’t really putting money into the women’s side of the game. For now, if you’re top four, they give you a stipend, but that wasn’t the case back then. With no Olympics, there was no money in staying amateur, so I went pro in 2008.


What was your toughest professional fight so far?

My toughest professional fight was against Susi Kentikian, and she was undefeated[in 2012]. She had three belts, and we were fighting for the title. I won, and she was 29-0 at the time.


What was your greatest accomplishment?

I would say taking the title from Susi because at the time she was the person to beat. I travel a lot for my fights. There’s very little promotional opportunities in the states, and winning in other countries is very difficult. I won twice in Germany and won once in Mexico. I guess I’m very proud of those because it’s very difficult to win in other countries.


What inspires you to get up and train every day?

I guess it’s a combination of things. One is I’ve always been good at sports, so I would do it anyway. Some times I ask, “Why do I train hard for this?” But I’m going to work out anyway, so I might as well be competitive. Boxing is a craft, so I take a lot of pride in trying to perfect that.  I guess I just want to.


Any advice for someone who looks up to you as a role model?

Whatever your goals are, you should believe in yourself and go after them. A lot of people will discourage you for different reasons. Some are mean-spirited, but others are tying to protect you because they know about defeat and it’s scary to them. You don’t really get anywhere unless you invest something.  You have to invest time, money, and effort. There’s no point in saying it won’t happen so you might as well not try. Just try.

Do you have any advice for your past self?

Listen to people around me. I have a really great team of trainers, and they always tell me I’m very head-strong, and I do try to listen, but I feel like I can do that better and really try to dissect what they’re saying. I feel like I could’ve improved more quickly if I was a little more perceptive.


Any lesson someone told you that really helped you?

My trainer always tells me, “Melissa, stop thinking about it. Just do it.” First, I didn’t know what that meant, but really, your body knows what to do. You have instincts, but when I think about it, that can make things worse.


When you hear the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?

Taking responsibility for your livelihood. To be honest, I always say to my friends, “I don’t want to do that because that’s not the life I want to live.” They laugh, but that’s true. There are a lot of things I have to do in order to compete and train. Because I have to carve out time in my every day life, and that comes down to setting down rules for what I do and when. You have to really decide, this is how I want to live, and this is how I’m going to get there.

Raquel Miller


Where did you grow up?

I’m from San Francisco, CA.

Were you an athletic kid?

I always played sports. I ran track, played basketball, softball. Those were my three main sports.


So what inspired you to box?

Growing up in the inner-city, there were a lot of fights and stuff like that. For me it was a bout challenging myself and being part of a sport that is so focus-based.

Were you in a lot of fights?

I was definitely a tomboy, and I was fighting all the boys and the girls. I was rough and always into something.


Did that continue when you picked up boxing?

No, I tried boxing three times before I really stuck to it. When I was young, I was street fighting, but as I got older, no. When I started boxing, definitely no because it’s a whole new level of knowing how to fight and how to box.

I understand that Andre Ward influenced you. How and why?

It’s just his IQ and knowing how to adjust to situations that makes him levels above his opponents. He’s able to outclass you and outmaneuver you, and how he carries himself.

In what way does he carry himself that impresses you?

I love the fact that he’s respectful, all about family, and loves God. I’ve always admired how he puts God first and respects his family.


You’ve mentioned before that movement and speed are your greatest assets? Care to explain for the casual fans?

So movement is really important because it’s really frustrating to hit a moving opponent. It’s really frustrating when someone knows how to move their feet, so that’s always something I like to do. You think about how Ali used to dance around the ring and it was effortless but it was hard to hit him. That’s one of my favorite things about my style.


Speed too. My coach always says I’m unpredictable because it’s hard to read my punches. It’s hard to brace for my punches if you don’t see them coming.

Do you think those assets are emphasized enough in the boxing world?

People nowadays like to see speed, but they don’t like movement. They want to see wars. In boxing, when you see fighters that stand in the middle and go toe-to-toe, a lot of people like to see the excitement of that. The movement is what gives you a long career because your body is not meant to take blow after blow.


People confuse the sensation of boxers getting hit with the sweet science of boxing. The object is to hit without getting hit. If it was that easy to just get in there and punch each other, where’s the skill? Where’s the training? What have we worked for and what game plan have we put together?

Floyd Mayweather has said something similar in his interviews. Do you think you’ll receive the same criticisms as Mayweather?

If I got criticized with some of the greatness that Floyd Mayweather showed in the ring, I’m okay with that. I feel like I would get less criticism because I’m a female. With Mayweather, they want to see the man go in there and go toe-to-toe, but they can appreciate it when the females go in there and show the skill instead of just a cat fight. I think it can be a good and a bad thing, but overall it’ll be a good thing for me because you can see the skill.


What’s your greatest accomplishment as a boxer?

I think my greatest accomplishment so far is being able to go to the World Championships in 2012. I had only been boxing for a little under two years. And getting a silver medal. I also got to compete in the Olympics as an alternate.

I think my favorite moment was at the World Championships and competing with so many different countries. That’s my biggest moment and the one I’m most proud of.


What was your hardest fight?

One of my hardest fights was the second fight I’ve ever had. I just came off an injury, and I didn’t take my opponent as seriously as I should have. I had an injury, but I didn’t want to make excuses. I felt like I underestimated her, and I didn’t prepare to the best of my ability, and she fought me from bell to bell.

I lost and I learned so much from that fight. It sent my training and determination into overdrive. Had I not had that fight and lost, I don’t think I would’ve understood how important it was to stay on top of my game. We rematched and I won the rematch.

The saying “You don’t play boxing” is so very true.


What does that phrase mean?

Boxing is a solo sport. It’s just you in there. All you take with you is the instruction and plan. Your life is on the line, and you can’t play around. In basketball, you can be a little out of shape and look to your teammate to make the winning shot. In boxing, the person’s trying to hurt you. When you haven’t worked, and you haven’t dedicated yourself to this sport, you have no business in the ring.

Is it your goal to win the Olympic gold medal this year, and what necessary improvements must you make to get there?

My goals have switched. We had the trials last year, and I won the bronze. So I won’t be able to compete for the games. So I’m going to go pro. I was really heartbroken that I couldn’t go, The Olympics was my dream, but I’m moving forward, and I’m excited for the next chapter.

Do you have any fights scheduled?

My first fight is looking like March 10th in San Diego. No opponent yet.

In which weight class?

I’m going to fight at middle weight, so 160.


Do you have any advice for anyone who views you as a role model?

I think the biggest message I can give to anybody is you have to believe in you. I know that sounds simple, but in a world where so much is put on you to be like anyone else, trust your dream whatever it is. It doesn’t have to be boxing. If you want to be a designer, whatever it is, if it makes you feel warm inside and energizes you, trust it.

Never stop believing in having that drive. You have to believe in you, even when nobody believes in you. You don’t have to prove anyone wrong. You just have to prove to yourself that you can do it.

People told me I couldn’t do it. They said the girls I went up against were too experienced or that girls shouldn’t fight. I said  you know what, this is my dream to live.


Do you have your own community program as well?

I have a nonprofit organization called Ladies in Power. It’s a mentorship program that is basically about teaching health, education, college preparation, credit management, and volunteering in the community.

My next event is “Fight like a Girl.” I’m going to get some girls together, teach some basic fundamentals, and talk about why I box and what it means to stick to something even when it’s hard.

My goal in boxing is to just inspire young girls and boys to believe in themselves. That’s the difference, having someone who believes in you and pushes you and teaches you about having a dream and pursuing it.

Any advice for your past self?

Refocus your energy. It’s so draining to give negative things your energy. I would tell myself to take that energy and apply it to something positive. If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve started boxing a long time ago.

Negativity and street fighting, all it does is drain you. It’s a big waste of your time. Just make whatever you’re doing count in a positive way.


When you hear the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?

Rule everything that I touch. Rule your community. Rule your sport. Rule your world and rule everything you’re a part of. Go hard until you know there’s no mistakes. When you step in that gym, rule that gym.

When I step in that ring, I want to rule that ring all out until people have to take notice and say, “You know what, she’s a force to be reckoned with.

Marti Malloy


Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Oak Harbor, Washington and went to Oak Harbor high School.

For how long have you practiced Judo?

I started when I was six years old.

What made you start?

I grew up on a naval base and my two older brothers took classes, so I followed.

When did you know you would compete on a high level?

I didn’t know, but I wanted to. I kind of went undefeated as a kid. When I went to higher level competition, I was also winning. Then I met a guy named Mike Swain who did a seminar of his career doing judo. He inspired me and helped me realize you could go around the world and beat the entire planet. I was nine years old.


Did Mike Swain become your mentor?

When I went to San Jose State at 18 because they had a strong judo program, he was one of the coaches there who worked with Yosh Uchida(He’s the San Jose State Judo  head coach in the photo on the right-Ed). Now he’s like family.

What important lessons  have you learned from practicing judo?

In order to get better and improve, you have to fail, not just in judo, but in every aspect of your life. In judo, there’s over 60 different throws, and even more variations of those throws. We have to repeatedly do them over and over, and obviously no one can do them right the first time. So we practice until we get them right. It’s like chronic delayed gratification.


What achievement are you most proud of in Judo?

Most people would expect me to say taking a bronze in the [2012 Summer] Olympics, and it’s definitely up there, but to me it was taking Silver in the World Championships in 2013 in Rio.

The World Championships in the judo community is the one everyone wants because it’s harder than the Olympics. You fight double the amount of people from every country because the  qualifications aren’t as strict as the Olympics.


Will you compete in the  next World Championship?

They’re every year except  an Olympic year. I took a 5th in 2011, a silver in 2013, and in 2015 I got fifth. I’m strongly considering taking another crack at it in 2017. I spoke to my family and friends and once you decide there’s really no turning back, so why not try?


What’s the hardest part of judo training?

The hardest part is how it breaks down your body. I’ve been doing the sport for 23 years. It’s a relatively safe sport contrary to popular belief, but there are still injuries. There’s a mindset that you have to train harder than everyone else, like any other sport. Waking up the next day after that kind of training is the hardest part.

Do you think Ronda Rousey made judo more popular?

Yeah, I was actually there when she won the bronze[in 2008]. I was her training partner. As to whether she increased the popularity, when she was doing judo, she was one of the most successful judo players in years. She sparked a huge interested in judo then for everyone, not just for girls. Seeing her transfer that judo ability in the UFC made it more so. I think she just kind of kept a steady course in what she was already doing.

What was it like to practice with Rousey?

We used to always compete with each other when I was younger, and I always lost and hated it until she switched weight classes. What I noticed about her was her ground work was amazing. When I would train with Ronda on the mat, I was sometimes amazed at how strong she was. Positions that I knew she would do and could anticipate, she would still submit me.


For how much longer do you see yourself practicing judo?

My whole life. When I’m no longer competing, it’ll be my main form of exercise. I think the hard work it teaches you is very important. I could never see myself stopping.

Any advice for someone who sees you as a role model?

The one thing I’ve learned from judo is that anything you believe you can do, you can do. I’ve come to learn that whatever you decide you want to be successful at, it’s really up to you. It’s all in your hands. Think of the things you want to excel at and take the time to make it happen. Otherwise you’ll be stagnant and not achieve anything.


What legacy do you want to leave behind?

Maybe that Marti Malloy always gave 100 percent, and she tried to help other people do the same because she recognized the value of hard work. There were people who inspired me with their hard work, and I’m doing the same for other people. All the time goes by and you switch places for people who were role models for you.


Can you think of an example of when you were that role model for someone?

It happens all the time. I teach clinics and attend local clinics. Kids say, “Oh my God, it’s Marti Malloy,” or parents drag their kids to them and say, “Look, it’s Marti Malloy,” and I’m so zoned in that I don’t always realize what the public thinks of me. It surprises me every time that I’m someone people want to introduce their kids to, and it’s humbling.


Any advice for your past self?

If I could go back to my 16-year old me, I would say lighten up. Everything you do toward this goal, just let it happen. Somehow people think worrying about things is going to help in some way, and it doesn’t. Control the things you can, but don’t try to control things you can’t.

Was there anything you tried to control but couldn’t?

Yeah, I used to spend so much time on how I’m going to win , if I’m training right, and at the end of the tournament whether I won or lost, I realized that didn’t help at all. I learned to do what I can within my own power.

What inspires you to push through and get up every day to train?

Every focused practice, not just going through the motions, but being focused in the moment, it’s like putting money in the bank and the competition is cashing out. Knowing that putting in the work is going to get me the prize that I desire is what motivates me.


When you hear the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?

You are the sole controller of your soul, mind and body, right? Do what it takes to control those aspects in a way that makes you happy.

Clifton Kump


Where did you grow up?

I was born in Madison, Wisconsin, to Jerry and LaDonna. Our little family moved to Reno, Nevada when I was eight months old to be closer to my mother’s side of the family.  I went to Hug High School and graduated in 1992. I was enrolled in PCDI and their online fitness and nutrition program and completed two semesters of that. I’m 41 years old now.

Were you an athletic kid growing up?

Actually, I was a chubby kid with a speech impediment. I was very good at school, but not athletic at all. I was constantly being tormented and it wasn’t until high school that I decided I wasn’t going to take crap any longer and met my ex fiancé and fell in love with her and martial arts.  I wrestled and played basketball but was not motivated to do either.

What do you mean by tormented, who was your ex fiancé, and when and how did you start martial arts?

I was picked on quite a bit. I stuck up for myself often, but it was a losing proposition because it happened so much. I gave the kids so much ammo to pick on me.

My ex fiancé was named Jennifer. She was a track babe and was also a black belt in Kajukenbo, a hybrid martial art originating in Hawaii. I met her my first year out of high school when I was 19.

Did she introduce you to Kajukenbo, or did you learn on your own?

She introduced me to it. They called it Kenpo, but that’s not the root style. But I had always loved ninja movies and had a surface interest in martial arts. Within a year though, I was learning and was able to get the better of her in sparring. She hated that(laughs).

Do you still practice Kajukenbo today?

I do not. I do hold the rank of black gi assistant instructor though. Of course, that was almost 20 years ago.

Is that the same as a black belt?

It is not. It’s customary in this school to give your advanced student a black gi so they can assist in the teaching of classes and to lead some children’s classes. I achieved the rank of purple belt. I took to it well though, and I could get the better of most of the black belts, save the vets of the style.


What martial art do you practice now and what designation do you hold?

I practice traditional Muay Thai. I am just a student, but I am working toward my first amateur Muay Thai fight. I’m 41, so it’s been difficult managing life and training. But I’m determined.

What’s the biggest difference between the two styles you’ve noticed while training?

Training philosophy. Muay Thai is drills, bag work, pad work, and sparring. Kajukenbo has elements of self-defense forms and kata forms as well. Plus, Kajukenbo promotes sparring, but with some padding. Muay Thai is a tried and true combat art that has been morphed into a combat sport without losing its essence. Kajukenbo was a hybrid style of martial arts that was taught in a traditional way.

I’ve found that through my martial arts journey, the main differences in styles are mostly training philosophy. I’ve studied many styles.

How many styles have you studied?

I’ve trained in Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Shotokan Karate, Jeet Kune Do, and studied on the Lynxx program which was a curriculum based style that was modeled around Jeet Kune Do. I’ve also trained in Aikido and traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu.


Which is your favorite?

That’s tough. Shotokan Karate is very rich in tradition and history. And it’s a hardcore style. Muay Thai is my favorite now that I’ve found a real gym to train in. BJJ is always fun but it tears up your body. But doesn’t everything(laughs)?


So what made you start Tides of Technique?

I started Tides because this September I founded Reno City Kickboxing, my Muay Thai gym. I figured it would be time to meld my two passions; writing and martial arts. I did it as mostly a creative outlet but also as a way to possible financial freedom.

What inspires you the most to pursue those two passions?

I love to influence people positively. Tides is a blog about the people of martial arts locally. It’s also about the schools that make up our community. I love to get to know people and to give people a perspective they may not yet have discovered. You can only do that by pulling back your own layers for all to see and sometimes criticize. It’s a trade off that is wholly worthwhile though.

Do you have any advice for someone who looks to you as a role model?

Sure. Never give up on anything you can’t stop thinking about. Live your life for yourself and only yourself. Be kind to everyone but when it’s time, do not be kind. Give 100 percent then give more; duty is the point of life. And at the risk of sounding cliché, it’s about the journey, not the destination.


What legacy do you want to leave behind?

I want people to know that I stayed true to myself and that I inspired people to new heights. I also love to see people I love succeed, so I hope they remember me as someone who was happier than them to see them succeed in life and achieve their dreams. The master should always aspire to make a student greater than him.

Have any of your students surpassed you yet?

I’m not a teacher, but since I have no children I do put a ton of work into my friends and most notably, my 20-year old nephew, Brandon. He’s become a strong, independent, tough young man and has overcome a learning disability to achieve great things already. He is on his way to surpassing everyone in his circle in the game of life.

What disability and what’s his latest milestone?

He’s socially deficient and it’s held him back severely in school. He also had a slight disability in his cognitive ability. He just recently was hired on at Winco Foods as a bagger and stock room clerk. He’s been able to hold a steady job and works hard with due diligence. For someone with his ability this is huge. His father and other uncles are monumentally proud of this kid.


So when you think of the phrase “Rule Your Nation” what do you think of?

I read some of the responses from your earlier blog posts and it seemed that the consensus was to rule yourself. I think it’s deeper than that. Life is made up of many moments strung together in a timeline influenced by many things, most notably persons, places, or things. “Rule Your Nation” means to me that you should be cognizant of everything around you and always to have your surroundings in control. Of course, you can’t influence change in everything, but you can influence your own culture and environment.

To me, in order to rule your nation, you need to be in control of your survival. No one[else] rules your surroundings. You do.  Be aware of how your life is moving along and adapt and overcome them as needed.

The Rule Your Nation Awards is kicking off 2016 in a powerful way. Every award winner has goals and aspirations and the will to make them happen.  You may not have a New Year’s resolution, but is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Now is the time to rule your nation and give it a shot.  There is no time like the present in 2016.

Rule well, my friends.

No  Apologies,

G. Miller

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