WEEK #37: GEMMA SHEEHAN
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I started doing MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) in grade 10, and before long all I wanted to do was become the next big MMA star. For 10 years my life consisted of training and competing in the sports of kickboxing, wrestling, and brazilian jiu jitsu. Everything was going as planned, I had a great 5-1 record, I had got gold at the Jiu Jitsu Pan Ams, and was ranked best MMA fighter in Ontario. In 2017, an MRI showed visible brain damage, and doctors highly suggested I stop fighting. I thought about why I was doing MMA to begin with, and I realized that I wasn’t making as big an impact as I would like to by fighting MMA. I quit, and started a company called Girl Who Fight, and now I teach girls and women mixed martial arts and self-defense. I feel like every step lead me here, right where I am supposed to be. Nothing is more rewarding than the work I do now, and doors are opening for me that I never thought possible. This came from an ability to adapt, believe in myself, and learn.
Please share a story about an internal or external barrier you have faced.
The truth is I have never faced barriers for being female in MMA, in fact, I believe it was an asset. There were less girls in the sport, so when a good one came along, people remembered you and wanted to give you opportunities. I took advantage of that every step of the way, with free gym memberships, sponsorships, documentaries and media. I feel the same thing is happening in the business world. People, and the media, love sharing stories of successful women. And I still use that to my advantage to spread the word about my program! My point is, sometimes, being female in a male dominated space is an asset, it makes you stand out. My advice is to look at it that way, as a positive, and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.
How did you overcome that barrier? What skills did you develop in sport to helped you overcome your barrier?
The main thing that MMA gave me was mental toughness. That is something that I can apply in every