As Malaysia reaches 50, many things that were considered ‘taboo’ among women in the olden days are now being done by them.

But figures like Pandelela Rinong (swimmer and first Malaysian to win an Olympic medal), Datuk Nicol Ann David (world number one squash player), Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz (Bank Negara governor) and Captain Norashikin Onn (Malaysia’s first female pilot) have proven that areas once dominated by men can now controlled by women as well.

And after fifty years, who would have thought that Malaysia has already produced its own professional female fighter in mixed martial arts (MMA)?

Meet Nur Ain Osman or better known as Ann ‘Athena’ Osman. She’s 27, pretty, half-Dusun and hails from Sabah. Ann has trained for two years in MMA and has a solid background in Muay Thai where she was trained by her coach, the legendary AJ ‘Pyro’ Lias Mansor. Ann will be competing in Asia biggest MMA event, ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) on October 18, 2013 and will be the first ever Malaysian female to fight in ONE FC or even in professional MMA. And that’s really something to be proud of!

Ann training hard at the Borneo Tribal Squad gym in Kota Kinabalu

It all started a few years ago when Ann, driven by her healthy lifestyle, walked into a gym where she saw AJ training some guys in the art of Muay Thai. Curious to know what it was, she took it upon herself to give it a try. After sessions and sessions of training, she started to fall in love with the art. From then on she kept on training and according to her, she “never skipped any class… ever”. Her passion in martial arts grew stronger and when her coach introduced her to MMA, the timing was just right.

Ann somehow owes her success in MMA to her outdoor-loving and active nature. Growing up in Sabah, she has always been an outdoor sea person. During weekends, one can expect her doing various extreme sports such as sea-kayaking, whitewater rafting, mountain biking and even hiking. Even during her school days, she always enjoyed playing basketball, netball and other sports. Her passion for the outdoors contributed to her being a professional MMA fighter. Up till now, Ann has fought in various amateur Muay Thai and MMA tournaments throughout the country.

Outdoor training with her coach, AJ 'Pyro' Lias Mansor

For her, to represent Malaysia is a dream come true. For her, it’s a big honour to be carrying the Malaysian flag to another country and bring home the victory. And as a true blue Malaysian, she is indeed proud. She has been working very hard in preparing for her upcoming fight and according to her, the support from Malaysians for indeed motivate her to win the championship title.

On her thoughts about the perception that mixed martial arts is a ‘male sport’, Ann says that it is sad when people think mixed martial arts is for guys. To her, there is no such thing as a ‘male sport’ as she had witnessed herself women participating in sports that are dominated by men.

Ann getting in shape for the big fight at ONE FC: Total Domination

Ann is a strong believer that women are now able to do things that men used to do, especially when the country has now reached its golden years. For her, it’s time to advance forward for a more advanced Malaysia. Juggling between her career in property industry, assisting her coach, and family, she believes that balance and time management is key towards success.

The fight at ONE FC is surely a big step for the Sabahan, and a giant leap for Malaysia. “The most important thing is to get in shape, get fit for the fight, to be prepared. That’s the whole focus right now,” she quipped. The story of Ann, is indeed a solid proof that Malaysia…boleh!