PUT 'EM UP: Real Life MMA fighters (from left) Brooklin Barrett, 13, Anita Vinson, and Brooke Boetje, 10, enjoyed success at the recent WAKO national championships in Sydney.
PUT 'EM UP: Real Life MMA fighters (from left) Brooklin Barrett, 13, Anita Vinson, and Brooke Boetje, 10, enjoyed success at the recent WAKO national championships in Sydney. David Nielsen

Meet our MMA champions

Mixed Martial Arts: One is a mum of two who, after just five months in the sport came home with a national silver medal.

Another transitioned from karate and taekwondo, and two years on returns with two golds draped around her neck.

The third, at just 10 years of age, has four years experience and countless competition appearances under her belt. She also just added another two gold medals to a swelling trophy cabinet.

Anita Vinson, Brooklin Barrett and Brooke Boetje travelled to Sydney for the WAKO Tatami National Championships, and returned grinning ear-to-ear - despite the various cuts and bruises.

 

Vinson originally visited Real Life MMA with the intention of enrolling her two young boys to train. However the 30 year-old was soon enamoured with the culture of the Brisbane St gym.

"Once I saw what they do here, I took an interest and things moved pretty quickly from there," the newly- minted national MMA Mod-Light silver medallist said.

"It was my first competition, so I didn't go into it with any expectations. I was just there for the experience, to enjoy it and see what it was about. The competitors were pretty tough and quite experienced, so I didn't expect to (come away with) a medal."

Vinson, who has competed in weightlifting competitions in the past, said there was no comparison between the two despite both sports making their home inside a gym.

"Weightlifting just doesn't compare to how MMA makes you feel," she said.

"It gives you a massive swell of confidence, knowing you can protect yourself and handle yourself in the real world.

"I loved competing. It's not for everyone, some come here just to learn self-defence and that's their choice. For myself, I loved the competitiveness."

It is that ability to choose either that Vinson believes is what makes Real Life MMA unique.

"We're a very friendly club, it's not all competition, competition, competition, like other MMA gyms I've been to," Vinson said.

For 13 year-old Brooklin, the path to MMA and kickboxing started once another path ended.

"I used to train in karate and taekwondo, and I got to a pretty high (level) belt, but then they shut it down," she said. "When I learned about MMA I checked it out with one of my friends and here I am now."

Brooklin already has a Melbourne Arnold Classic appearance to her name, and thus knew what to expect in her MMA Mod-Light and Kickboxing competitions. She claimed gold in both events.

The talented teen fighter's motivation to stay in the sport is three-fold, winning medals is always fun, she said. As is getting to train and laugh with other fighters at the club.

But it also helps her stay fit, which is of great benefit for her other sporting love - football. "You get good results out of it, and it helps keep you fit," Brooklin said.

"(Winning medals) is nice because it proves to people you know what you're doing, and you're good at it."

Although the youngest, with four years of experience to her name 10 year-old Brooke was in-fact the most experienced of the trio to compete.

Her affinity for kicking and punching was borne out of watching her parents train when she was younger, and it only grew from there.

"My Mum and Dad both did it when I was really little, and Dad saw me joining in the warm-ups," Brooke said.

"So he would get the chalk out in the garage and teach me stuff, and that's where it started."

Brooke competed in both MMA Mod-Light and Kickboxing in Sydney, winning both.

You would not pick it looking at the diminutive fighter, full of laughs and constantly with a smile. But she is already making a name for herself as one of the best in her chosen fighting-field.



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