Sean Boynton/THE NEWS MMA fighter Shawna Ram trains at the Clinch training gym in Port Coquitlam ahead of her fight on Saturday, July 8.

Maple Ridge fighter ready to throw down

Shawna Ram continues MMA legacy, defends women’s title Saturday

Shawna Ram is hungry.

The 31-year-old mixed martial arts fighter of Maple Ridge has been training for weeks for her next fight on July 8, when she faces Squamish’s Jamey Lyn Horth in BFL50 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

That training includes shedding pounds to meet her weight. So she’s been skipping lunches.

When she does eat, it’s a strict vegan diet of beans and other vegetables – and lot of water, of course.

But as the fight draws closer, the lack of food is messing with her brain.

“Physically, I’m feeling great and I’m performing well,” Ram says.

“But this is around the time [before a fight] when I start to doubt myself, and having less food isn’t helping with that.”

She knows she has no reason to worry, and not just because, as she said, “I’ve seen [Horth] fight. I don’t have any fears.”

Although Ram is still considered an amateur fighter, she’s won each of the four fights she’s fought so far.

Three of those wins were decisive, which is what she prefers.

“I’m always looking to finish my fights,” Ram says.

“Whether that’s with [knockouts], submissions, a [referee] stoppage, I just prefer it.

“When you leave it up to the judges, there’s room for everybody to talk smack. But when you finish, no one can say nothing.”

Saturday’s fight will also be Ram’s last amateur event, allowing her to enter into the professional fighting world.

Born in Oliver, Ram’s journey to becoming a serious MMA contender came about naturally.

Her husband, Sal, is an accomplished fighter himself, having competed and trained around the world for years.

He later opened a training gym, called Clinch, in Burnaby in 2007. Shawna would pop in to train and help out with the business, but between taking care of the couple’s son and their house, it was hard to make a priority.

After giving birth to a second child in 2011, Ram started lifting weights and training regularly.

“I really fell in love with the way it changed my body, and changed me mentally,” she said.

Ram started out with bikini competitions, but eventually moved into fight training and hasn’t looked back since.

“It’s brought out this whole new confidence in me,” she said.

“I always thought I was confident before, but this is a whole new level.”

Moving Clinch to Port Coquitlam in 2014, which shortened the commute from the couple’s home in Maple Ridge, also allowed Ram to increase her commitment to the sport.

Sal Ram, who’s also Shawna’s trainer and coach, has proudly watched his wife grow and transform before his eyes.

“She’s a natural, and she’s a real fighter,” he said.

“She always gives it her all, and just focuses on the win, no matter what. She’s just brutal.”

Having coached countless up-and-coming fighters over the course of his career, Sal appreciates Shawna’s commitment not only to the art of fighting, but to allowing Sal to make her into the best she can be.

“When you own a gym and coach, you get lots of flakes and bad seeds, and it’s easy to get jaded,” he said.

“I was getting really sick of it after a while and just wanted my boy to get old enough so I could pour all my knowledge into him. But she said, ‘Give [that knowledge] to me.’ And that means more to me than anyone else saying that. So I said, ‘Let’s go.’ ”

As for Ram, her fight on Saturday will see her defending her BFL women’s title belt.

She’s the first to win the title, and she says she’s not going to give it up easily.

“I’m not coming to play paddy-cake,” she said with a smile.