Forward Momentum – Kickboxing Champion Mary Matia charges ahead in the ring, in the gym and in life.

Mary in the gym  photo by Melanie Klaer

KnuckleUp Fitness  Instructor Mary Matia in the gym
photo by Melanie Klaer.


One of eight siblings, Mary Matia first walked into a gym because one of her brothers talked her into it. Five months later she was competing in her first sanctioned match and she’s never looked back. Today Mary owns a kickboxing record of 17-4 and holds several kickboxing titles. She is also pursuing a Nursing degree at Georgia State and is one of KnuckleUp’s star instructors.

What drives her today is the same thing that attracted her to martial arts in the beginning.

I’ve always loved sports and I’ve always loved pushing myself. You get some of that in other sports but in fighting it’s so raw. It’s all about will power. Its you against one other person. It’s one-on-one and I love that competition.

Mary says that by constantly pushing herself in the gym she’s wining the many small victories that add up the big ones in the ring.

I love training. It pushes your body and what you give to the sport is what you get out of it. I love that about it. You get out exactly what you put in. So if you put in 100 percent you get 100 percent back from the sport and I really like that.

Plus Mary says her workouts help revitalize her mind and spirit as well.

Training makes me happy. It makes my body feel good and it relaxes my mind. It’s a release. It just lets you feel free while you’re doing it.

As anyone who see’s her in the gym knows she’s always the hardest working fighter in the room. She says that attitude carries over into her life outside KnuckleUp.

Training gives me motivation to work hard in other things that aren’t related to fighting. It gives me a drive. I do better in my school. I’ll work harder in my schoolwork if I’m working harder in the gym. It helps me push forward in all aspects of my life and not just at the gym.

She credits her first coach with helping her discover that her naturally driven personality was a positive.

 The two of us had a really strong camaraderie. He really helped motivate and push me. He taught me that my desire and my drive to go forward was a good thing and he taught me how to bring it out of me. So now that we’re not working together any more I’m still able to take what he gave me and help push and drive myself to do better.

 Mary’s sweet and unassuming nature belies her incredible drive.   It’s this combination of cuddly lovability and pit bull intensity that made her one of KnuckleUp’s top kickboxing instructors. She recognizes that many of her students, most of who will never compete, are getting much of the same benefits from the training that she does.

 The people that I help train, even people who come in just for fun, I can see really push themselves. They enjoy it because there’s always something that they can keep working on and keep trying to do and keep trying to learn. They’ll come and ask questions. They’ll ask things like if there are any variations on the techniques they can do or are there new things they can try. I think this is the biggest attraction of any martial art that there’s always something more that you can learn.

 Mary’s career as a kickboxer continues to thrive and on June 26th she’ll face Anna Crutchfield for the IKF Lightweight World Kickboxing Championship. While Mary predicts a tough and exciting fight she says that, when women fight there’s always more to it than just the competition.

There tends to be a lot of camaraderie among female fighters. We’re always fighting to prove a point and to prove that we belong here. There are female fighters that encourage me so I feel like I should do the same for other female fighters. So I’ll follow as many of them as I can and I’ll go and watch their fights and if I know them I’ll encourage them.

But the camaraderie only goes so far. She says she’s fully confident she’ll keep her titles and that her record will improve to 18-4 after the match.


At KnuckleUp Fitness we use the power of world-class martial arts instruction to make exercise fun and exciting. If you want to see the remarkable results our classes and personal training sessions can have on your body and mind then sign up for a free one-week trial membership today.