Scheduled to step back in the cage in May, one local MMA fighter explains how the sport has given her different family members here and halfway around the world.
What began as an introduction to kickboxing quickly evolved into love and dedication of mixed martial arts for Erie native Alanna Yungwirth.
“That’s what a lot of people don’t realize is that it is as much mental sport as it is a physical sport. It’s definitely very physically demanding. Just like the mindset of going into a competition, that is something you definitely have to work on as time goes on.” Yungwirth said.
For two years, Yungwirth lived in South Korea teaching English. As she began missing her family back here, mixed martial arts was the perfect medicine for her to feel right at home.
“Something about MMA gyms that’s different than other gyms is that it truly is a family. So, in doing that over in South Korea, I have built a family there. So, when it came time to come back to the U.S., I was a little bit sad because I was leaving my family there and I came back to this gym and got a new family here. At home, I only have sisters now, I have all these brothers here at the gym. It was really unexpected, but it’s really great.” Yungwirth said.
“At the beginning, you have to earn people’s respect, but that’s also the fun part about it. When you keep showing up and keep putting in hard work then you can tell that people start looking at you differently and they start to respect you more and become part of the family, which is really great.” Yungwirth said.
Whether she fights in her next bout in a couple months or later in the year, Yungwirth encourages anyone who wants to give the sport a try to do so.
“I think a lot of people are intimidated to come try it out because of the nature of the sport. In this gym however, we’re all family. Nobody is trying to hurt anybody. We’re all here to learn and better each other, work with each other. Especially with girls. there is an intimidation factor, but honestly, it’s one of the best forms of self-defense there is.” Yungwirth said.