Athlete to watch: Michelle Montague

Rising Star Montague returns from forced life on the road to fight for world title, training at American Top Team with Kayla Harrrison and at SBG Ireland. Photos: IMMAF.

From the moment she flew out from her homeland New Zealand to attend the European Championships in Russia, the second half of 2021 for IMMAF Rising Star Michelle Montague became a 'whirlwind’.

The reigning IMMAF Lightweight World Champion underwent a series of challenges during this period that would have tested even the most seasoned professional fighter. 

It started with her traveling to Russia to compete without her usual coaching team due to the difficulties caused by New Zealand's strict border controls. Next, during the tournament, Montague found herself battling an injury.

Then, just as she was preparing to head home Michele discovered she would need to extend her overseas adventure, due to a Covid outbreak in New Zealand, which saw the borders closed for all returnees except emergency cases.

 On the morning of her matchup with De Sousa, the 28-year-old had a video chat with her team back in New Zealand, who put her through a series of exercises to determine if she would be able to compete.

"The team at ATT were so awesome,'' Montague says. "I mean, obviously, doing those sessions with Kayla and Mike was for me the most valuable part, all those extra reps and drills and all that we did. That there for me was probably one of the best takeaways."

"We had a couple of other opportunities pop up from that trip as well, and that stuff would never have happened if I hadn't been stuck out. So honestly, I think it worked out for the better," Montague explains.

After the unexpected cancellation of the 2021 IMMAF World Championships in Kazakhstan, Montague found herself again experiencing visa issues. She could not stay in the USA but could not yet return to New Zealand until her spot in MIQ [Managed Isolation and Quarantine] opened up.

Fortunately, IMMAF president President Kerrith Brown and SBG Ireland's John Kavanagh came up with a solution. Montague waved goodbye to sun kissed Florida and said hello to the Emerald Isle as she took up residence in the Irish capital of Dublin.