MMA: Leading Kiwi fighter Baby Nansen suspended after punching official at event

The head coach of an Auckland martial arts gym has indefinitely stepped down from cornering her fighters after striking an official at a fight night on Saturday.

Baby Nansen, a professional combat sports athlete who coaches at South Auckland Martial Arts (SMAC gym), was at the event in Auckland in a coaching capacity with one of the athletes from her gym. After a contentious decision went against her fighter, Nansen got into a heated discussion with a ringside judge before striking him. The pair were quickly separated.

In a statement to the Herald, New Zealand Global Fighting Networks president Terry P Hill, whose company provided the officials for the event and is the leading combat sport referee, judges and officials providers in New Zealand, said Nansen reached out to himself and the official involved the following day to apologise.

“After several very honest, restorative conversations we have decided to move on and accept her apologies and remorse as genuine at a personal level,” Hill said.

“However, from an organisational point of view, we need to protect our officials and make a stand against this type of behaviour, consequently Ms Nansen will be suspended from participating as a coach or trainer in any events we are officiating at for a period of 12 months.”

Nansen is among the country’s leading combat sports athletes, having claimed several titles in kickboxing and boxing, and having represented New Zealand on the undercard of a World Boxing Organisation (super) lightweight title fight between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Jorge Linares at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2018. She has recently been working to transition into mixed martial arts, making her MMA debut earlier this year.

In a statement to the Herald, Nansen expressed her regret over the situation and said she would be taking steps to ensure it did not happen again.

“I let my heart override my professionalism and let my gym, my team down and brought the sport into disrepute as a result. I am taking full responsibility of my actions and the impact it has had on people.

“On Sunday I reached out to all those involved to apologise and begin the process of making amends. As a result I have voluntarily stepped down from cornering my fighters while I take the necessary steps to do so. I absolutely love what I do in fight sports; this is my life and I will continue to live and learn from this.

“Once again I want to apologise to the officials, the WKN (World Kickboxing Network), the promoter, my gym family, my coaches and the community.

“I am truly sorry, it will never happen again.”

While running her own facility, Nansen has also trained at and fought under the banner of Auckland’s City Kickboxing, who indefinitely suspended her from the gym after learning of the incident on Sunday.

“The incident occurred in the athlete’s capacity as a coach and corner person for their own gym, at an event we had no association with,” City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman said in a statement to the Herald.

“We find the actions disgraceful and utterly condemn them. We met the athlete on Monday, cancelled a bout she was scheduled to compete in and have suspended her from City Kickboxing indefinitely.

“Although the athlete has been removed from gym, we will support her to get the guidance and counselling she needs to deal with the issues which led to the incident.”

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