Nadine Champion is not my friend. She is my teacher. I first met her 14 years ago, at Boxing Works in Sydney. Within the Boxing Works constellation, Nadine was at the peak of her fighting career and one of the few fighters in the gym that every other fighter respected. Thirteen years ago I mustered up the courage to ask her if she would teach me. She would have taught me longer, had it not taken me so long to ask.
Nadine has taught me the physical side of Ukidokan kickboxing, making me feel physically fit and strong and realise that my body is capable of amazing things. When I became pregnant unexpectedly, she allowed me (with great care) to continue training, and in doing so gave me a sense of agency over a situation I was terrified by.
When Nadine was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma mid-2013, I was afraid of losing her. I am grateful to Sensei Benny — Nadine’s teacher — who held space for us all during a training session to tell her out loud that we loved her.
Thirteen years ago, I didn’t know that falling in love with Ukidokan meant entering deep and turbulent emotional water. The more I learn, the deeper and more uncomfortable it becomes; the pain is physical and emotional. More than once I’ve needed help to be put back together and for this I am extremely grateful to have a Sensei to help me confront and fully experience myself — the good, the bad and the ugly.
So it is with greatest respect that I don’t consider Nadine Champion my friend. She is my teacher, and I am proud to share our conversation with you.