Light on her feet and quick with her fists, model and professional Muay Thai fighter MIA KANG knocks you out both in the catwalk and inside rings.
A beauty that floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee, Mia Kang explodes out of quiet truculence into a newfound focus as a Sports Illustrated model and professional Muay Thai fighter. Seen in notable brands like Nike and Guess x A$AP Rocky, as well as fashion magazines such as Vogue, I-D, and In London, she brings cultural dimension to her sharp angles as she won in 2016’s search for the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Revealed as well as 2017’s SI Swimsuit Rookie. “I was so shocked. Statistically I should have lost that – I was new to the US, had no social media following and was an ethnic minority. But what an unbelievable achievement and opportunity to work with such an iconic brand,” Mia says. A successful model with a chip in her shoulder, she leaps from upscale runways to gritty streets and delivers a stunning blow to end her eating disorder’s years long hold on her. “I’m half Korean and half British and I grew up in Hong Kong. I never fit in with the Caucasian kids and never fit in with the Asian kids. I grew up overweight and very bullied. At age 13, I halved my weight and immediately got scouted as a model. From a very young age I saw how people treat you differently just based on your weight and size. I learned about this superficial side of people from a very young age and spent the next 15 years fighting eating disorders and body dysmorphia. I never felt like I fit into a box and always felt like an outlier,” Mia explains as we try to weigh in the model’s unflinching motivation to break all stereotypes.
“I want to see an attainable and realistic standard of beauty. I want little girls to know that beauty is beyond size. I want to emphasize to women that what’s important is not what you look like but the woman that you are.”
Holding an intoxicating image of female beauty rooted in power, confidence as well as grace, the Asian-British model settles her disagreements with society through her fists. Swashbuckling into an unsuspected detour into a life-changing moment, Mia discovers her passion for the sport as she was visiting her family, turning a week’s worth into a six-month backbreaking training. “I was exercising levels of discipline I had never even knew of. I was physically pushing myself to levels I never knew I was capable of. I saw strength in my body I had never seen before. I watched my body change and grow and loved every moment of it,” Stripped down to the bones and initially defeated by the implausible demands of fashion, she regains her ground and packs a winning punch on her first fight by TKO, gaining more than just muscle. “It’s the craziest thing I’ve done in my life! The biggest lesson I have learned is that when you’re in that ring, you’re alone. You fight entirely alone,” she adds, “The most valuable lesson I have learned is the separation of ego and self-confidence. Muay Thai and martial arts showed me how to get to a place of 100% self-confidence for the first time in my life. Learning to let go of your insecurities is a phenomenal enlightenment,” shares Mia about striking her mental restraints down and her choice in Muay Thai as an avenue to self-fulfillment and respect.
“I saw strength in my body I had never seen before. I watched my body change and grow and loved every moment of it.”
Adding new magnitudes to the fashion industry, the badass supermodel represents a change that does more than rippling effects and ends with a surefire grab. “I truly believe that I have been dragged through the darkness and managed to come out the other side still standing and still fighting, and this happened for a reason so that other women and young girls don’t have to go through what I did,” she shares “We have a sample size (0-2) fashion industry, we have a plus size industry. We have almost no representation of everything in between. I want to see an attainable and realistic standard of beauty. I want little girls to know that beauty is beyond size. I want to emphasize to women that what’s important is not what you look like but the woman that you are. It’s incredibly hard to be a woman these days, the pressure on us from the media, society, men, are a lot. All I want to do is help alleviate that pressure and take some weight off of the shoulders of women.” Whether suited up for glamour or a fight, Mia smashes the match with all the right hooks.