Laura “La Gladiadora” Balin plans on delivering a debut to remember at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER.
The Argentinian athlete will take on Xiong Jing Nan in Macau on 23 June as she challenges for the ONE Strawweight World Title in her ONE Championship debut.
It’s a huge opportunity for the 38-year-old, who makes the transition from South America to Asia in a bid to capture the prestigious title on her first appearance for the organisation.
Balin – a loving and devoted mother to her two sons who are now aged 18 and 14 – was a kindergarten teacher. But her life was transformed when her husband Guillermo persuaded her to try kickboxing.
She fell in love with the discipline and, backed by her martial arts-loving husband, she eventually reached a high enough level to convince her to leave teaching and become a full-time martial arts athlete.
“I started practising kickboxing in 2008 or 2009. I made my debut when I was 30 years old in that discipline, and in 2011, I began competing in mixed martial arts,” she explains.
“I did have to make some changes in my life because I was a teacher. I taught at a school, and I had to leave that job to commit to this as long as possible.”
Despite being a late starter in the world of professional martial arts, Balin soon became a real force in South America. She credits her success to the support from her family.
“Guillermo and my two kids have supported me right from the beginning,” Balin says.
“The three of them have dedicated themselves to helping me with the chores around the house, and with school.
“Guillermo was the one who encouraged me and gave me strength to go on. He trains with me, corrects me, helps me, and he sets up my physical training and planning. He is in charge of all of that. The three of them have always been my biggest supporters.”
With her husband as her head coach and her teenage boys training alongside her, Balin’s training camps involve her whole family. She says they have been a huge help as she’s prepared for the biggest bout of her career.
“Both of them help me with my sparring and wrestling since their weight and size is similar to mine,” she adds.
“Besides, they have been training for many years, so they help me with my kickboxing and Muay Thai, as well as jiu-jitsu and wrestling.”
Since she made her mixed martial arts debut in October 2011, Balin has amassed a 10-2 record, with five submissions and four KOs to her name. She has also captured the Gladiadores MMA Championship in Argentina.
Now she swaps South America for Macau as she bids to capture the ONE Flyweight World Title against newly-crowned champion Xiong in what promises to be an all-action affair on 23 June.
China’s Xiong has looked very impressive in her two ONE bouts so far – extending her winning run to six consecutive bouts.
But Balin is on a four-bout win streak of her own, and she is not intimidated by the challenge at hand.
“I am ready to fight for the title and bring it to Argentina,” she says.