KENMORE, N.Y. (WIVB)- It’s been about a year since Ayanna Tramont first stepped into the ring.
The 40-year-old single mom of two grew up watching karate. She’s always loved staying in shape, but never saw herself as a “fighter.”
“I had a student of mine who actually was fighting through Western New York MMA, said to me you know ‘why don’t you come and try the gym out?’ and I said ‘no I can’t do that.”
But she did, and she’s been doing it ever since. She’s now an undefeated amateur Muay Thai fighter.
“I couldn’t even get her to throw a kick when she first started,” said one of her trainers, Corey Combes.
“Now she’s really comfortable with her kicks. Her knees, you know, you see her hit people with knees, they don’t want anymore. As soon as they get hit one time with the knee, they’re done,” he said.
The Kenmore West teacher is not only a lot older than most of her opponents, she also towers over them; her fighting name is “Ayanna the Tower of Power Tramont.”
From the beginning, her cheering section has always been packed; often times, with her students. But it’s her two teenage sons who head up her fan club.
Her son Nicholas said he’s never missed a match. He and brother Jonah are there each time, even when it’s hard to watch.
“It was like nerve-racking. And when she started fighting I got like super nervous because I didn’t want her to get hit,” Jonah said.
Ayanna told News 4 Muay Thai keeps her feeling young, and breaking down stereotypes is part of her motivation.
Any given day, you’ll find her training at Western New York MMA.
“We all don’t have to look the same and we all don’t have to be the same to be fighters. We come in all shapes, sizes, women, men. So we kind of have to break through that barrier,” Ayanna said.
One of her trainers has an extra special place in her life; Tommy Neff is also her boyfriend.
Neff told News 4 boyfriend or not, he’s a tough coach.
“If I tell her one thing that she did wrong, she’ll be in the gym working it, working it until she gets it right. And that drive is something I’ve never seen before,” Neff said.
He told News 4 Ayanna not only inspires him, but other fighters.
“When we get the list of opponents, who she is going to be fighting, and we see their ages, it doesn’t phase her one bit.”
There are more and more female MMA fighters every day, but it’s still largely a male dominated sport.
In the ring, Ayanna doesn’t seem to notice the unequal male-to-female ratio in the gym.
She’s got a lot of female students, and hopes her goals are a reminder to them that if you love something enough, it’s worth fighting for.
“Doesn’t matter whether or not you’re young or you’re old or you’re middle aged, whether you’re a women or a male. We all have a purpose and we find our passion, and I feel once you find your passion, you know it doesn’t matter what gender you are,” she said.