When Indonesian mixed martial artist Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol, 29, tells her friends and neighbors about how she makes a living, she gets more than a few quizzical looks. While some are legitimately thrilled about her professional martial arts career, many, including her family, believe that she should quit.
“Some friends are excited but some just have questions like, ‘When will you stop? It is better to get another job rather than competing because of your age,’” Gaol revealed. “My family is very concerned for my safety.”
Hailing from Jakarta, Indonesia, Gaol has been battling negative reputation of women’s participation in combat sports since she started training various striking disciplines such as kickboxing and Wushu at a young age. Even though she brought home pride and glory to her country by becoming an international Wushu champion, the aforementioned undesirable perception had not left her.
Over a year ago, Gaol directed her career path to MMA. She explained that seeing a woman succeed in a sport wholly dominated by men for the past 25 years is just an example of what is possible.
“I would like to continue this campaign for everyone who doesn’t understand the beauty of this sport,” Gaol stated. “Martial arts is not about fighting. Its real aim is to empower both men and women.”
“We’ve already seen what women can do inside the cage or ring,” the Indonesian fighter continued. “It’s a high time to unleash our full potential in this sport.”
While it has declined inch-by-inch, Gaol pointed out that women’s role in mixed martial arts still needs to be consistently promoted and encouraged for the stigma to totally diminish. She explained, “It needs more opportunity. I think that there are young girls who are probably interested in getting into it, and we need support from men and women to encourage and let them go to the gym.”
Gaol has won two-straight matches, defeating Audreylaura Boniface of Malaysia via first-round stoppage in January 2018 before submitting Filipina newcomer Krisna Limbaga in February 2018. The Indonesian fighter looks to keep the momentum rolling as she is slated to square off with Filipina standout Rome Trinidad on the undercard of “ONE: Grit and Glory” at the Jakarta Convention Center in Jakarta on May 12, 2018.