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Female S.African MMA star promoting sport to women

Shana Power, South Africa’s first female amateur mixed martial arts champion, has been defying gender stereotypes in the world of combat sport for five years.

Power said that prominent female competitors like US star Holly Holm had inspired her passion for the sport and that she now hopes to motivate others to take it up.

“I’ve inspired people around me, I’ve been supported by people I trained with so I’ve had a good experience. I’ve only had positive feedback from people around me,” she told AFP during a training session at her gym in Midrand, north of Johannesburg, ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8.

Powers, who at 25 is also the country’s first female MMA coach, said that being a woman had not held her back in a sport that is often perceived as largely the preserve of men.

“In my profession I’ve actually been quite fortunate, I haven’t faced many challenges, for example being a woman in a male-dominated sport, I’ve actually had a lot of positives from it,” she said.

But securing equal pay to match that of her fellow male competitors had proved to be a struggle.

“I don’t think we get offered the same, but in terms of the personal training and coaching, yes I’m rated the same as a male,” she said.