A racial assault helped lead Fil-Brit Natalie Gonzales Hills to MMA
ONE Championship on Apr 15, 2017 05:51 PM
"I kicked bad people and habits out of my life. It was a process." - Natalie Gonzales-Hills (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
Natalie Gonzales Hills (1-4) has found more from martial arts than you could ever recognise from her professional MMA record. Like everybody else that takes up combat sports, there's usually a reason for starting, and then a sense of belonging that keeps them there.
She takes to the cage at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY on 21 April as a better, more fulfilled person, regardless of what the result might be. When she goes out in front of the thousands at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, having her arm raised would be a bonus, but it's the journey that has really made the difference.
Initially starting in karate as a child, Hills was a good student both inside and outside the dojo. As often happens, when the teenage years roll in, so does temptation and the opportunity to go off the rails. Even though she was still achieving academically, with nothing else to occupy her outside of that, it was easy to turn to delinquent activities.
Drinking and a crowd of friends that may not have been good influences meant she wasn't being productive in her free time. Her innate intelligence got her through to university, but it wasn’t easy.
"During my first year, I still got into a lot of trouble. I was studying, I had two jobs, but I did like to party. I was burning the candle at both ends. I was in an abusive relationship, too,” shared Hills.
There's nothing like reality to bring someone crashing down to Earth. As you find yourself slipping, you realise you can't hold on to the same habits if you want to pull yourself out of a hole.
There was a catalyst for the Philippines-born, England-raised atomweight to get back into the gym, as she was assaulted while doing charity work on the streets by a 30-strong mob in a racially-instigated attack.
This made self defence a priority, and from the moment she walked through the door of the boxing gym, her life began to change for the better.
"I could feel myself getting fitter, stronger, and more confident," Hills revealed. "When I first started training, for one week I did not have the best technique, and a couple weeks later I am throwing combinations and doing better at sparring. That made me feel like I was on to something."
The sense of accomplishment enthused the once apathetic Hills, and pushed her back on to the path of martial arts as a vehicle for self-improvement. Now, refocused, she was more interested in seeing the development of her skills, and how much better it made her feel mentally and physically.
With study and work dominating her life, and a relationship that was damaging, partying seemed like the catharsis she needed. When she started boxing, eventually taking up Muay Thai and MMA, she found what actually gave her the right release, as well as a sense of satisfaction.
"The more I trained, the less I partied," Hills added. "I kicked bad people and habits out of my life. It was a process."
So, now happier and healthier, the Filipino fighter takes all she needs from her martial arts journey. Stepping into the cage to compete in front of thousands of cheering fans is just something that truly vindicates the positive decisions she has made for herself.
This article was first published in the ONE CHAMPIONSHIP Website. Photos courtesy of ONE Championship.
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