Neal needs her knees

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ELBOW and knee smashes are all fair game in the brutal kickboxing sport Muay Thai.

For her second fight Inglewood’s Alana Neal travelled to Darwin to fight in front of a 2000-strong crowd overwhelmingly backing her opponent.

Neal went on to break the poor bugger’s sternum with a knee to the chest, putting her out of action for eight weeks.

Two more victories followed and Neal now has a shot at the super lightweight state title on Saturday night.

“It’s fear that drives me in the ring,”

Outside the ring Neal, 27—a recruitment consultant for a mining company—is well-spoken and intelligent.

“It’s fear that drives me in the ring,” she says. “I wouldn’t say I’m particularly aggressive in real life, but when I get in there something takes over and I know it’s hurt them or be hurt.”

In her short three-year fighting career Neal has amassed a litany of injuries, including twice breaking her foot and a back problem that forced her out of the ring for a year.

“I had a bulging disc and was in bed for two months,” she says.

“One physio said I shouldn’t fight again, but I had a second opinion and the pain is now manageable.”

Unlike many women who compete in Thai kickboxing, Neal is not and has never been a personal trainer.

She did play netball and basketball at state level and claims her six-foot height gives her an edge.

“Because I have long legs I am good at kneeing—that’s probably my trademark move,” she says.

“I got interested in Muay Thai after watching several UFC fights.”

In preparation for Saturday’s title decider, Neal—nicknamed Avatar—has been training at a gym in Thailand for six weeks.

“My mum isn’t so keen on me fighting,” she says. “But luckily two of my four fights have been KOs in my favour, so she hasn’t had to watch me get battered too much.

“I’m hoping Saturday will be the same outcome.”

Neal will fight at the Mike Barnett Sports Complex in Rockingham on March 1.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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