In April 2022, Jeeta Pratap won the NZMF Featherweight Title in a wild match against Gabby Kane. In a chat with Fight News, Pratap talks about the mental & physical preparation ahead of this match, and the team that helped get her there.
Jeeta, firstly congratulations on your recent Title win against Gabby Kane! How did you enjoy the experience?
I loved every minute of it. The highlight from this fight was that I was more present than any previous fights which meant I could execute some of the things we had been working on in training.
Gabby and I were meant to fight in December 2021 and February 2022, but both times the fight was postponed due to Covid.
I put my name down to fight on Art of War in April after the February fight fell through. Gabby had just come back from Amsterdam after participating in GAMMA and we weren't sure if the fight was going to go ahead. Just under two weeks before the Art of War, I found out the fight was confirmed. So, although the fight was quite last minute, I felt ready because it was a long time coming.
Was the fact it was a Title change your preparation either mentally or physically?
I wanted to be the first female from City Lee Gar to win a title and I had set a goal for myself that I was going to win that title this year.
I had every intention of winning, which meant I had to push myself beyond what I have in the past. The last strength and conditioning workout I did in preparation for this fight was probably one of the hardest workouts I've ever experienced, both mentally and physically. After that workout, I knew if I could get my body to do that, I was ready for the fight.
You’ve been training for 12 years – what’s kept you going?
You can never stop learning and I enjoy that part of it.
I use fighting to set goals for personal growth. I find that the discipline, focus, self-control, and confidence needed for this sport also plays an important role in life. The mental fortitude that comes with having to eat right, train every day, sleep, teaches me to be more assertive and resilient in other areas of my life.
I've also been lucky enough to have some incredible coaches, and this has played a big part in why I keep going. I never thought of fighting when I first started training but my coach in Malaysia was the first person to believe that I could. Knowing someone who I looked up to believed that I could, gave me the confidence not only to start fighting, but to continue training when I moved back to NZ.
When I came back at the end of 2010, I joined City Lee Gar. Initially I had Dan Hatch as my Coach. Training with such a great fighter was an experience to say the least - we would get more bruises from pads with him than we did in the actual fights! He taught me that if I could do pads with him and stay standing, I could fight anyone.
In recent times, I've been training under Tony Angelov. I have always looked up to Tony as a fighter, and he has been amazing to train under. Not only has he taught me so much as technically and stylistically, he has played a huge role in my personal growth. That, coupled with the physical confidence I have gained from doing strength training with Alex Porter, has made me in to the fighter I am today. They are two of the most kind and genuine people that I have had the privilege of knowing, and I am very grateful to have them in my corner.
You’ve had some great fights over the past few years, what are some of your highlights?
This is a hard one! Win or lose, I've enjoyed every fight I've had. My first fight was against a Thai girl in Malaysia where I had started training and I loved that one! Not having fought in a ring before, my brain didn't really know what to expect and when the bell rang, my body kicked in to fight mode for the whole 9 minutes.
One of my favourite opponents is definitely Wendy Talbot. I remember the first fight show I went to when I moved back to NZ was Princesses of Pain, where Wendy fought in an 8 woman tournament (I think) and won. I absolutely idolised her as a fighter, so to fight her was such an amazing experience.
Then obviously there is the title fight with Gabby, how can I not love the fight where I finally won a title!
Jeeta, thank you so much for your time. We are looking forward to seeing you back in the ring!