Punch PTSD in the face!


(TFL) Welcome to the fighter’s life. Everyone interviews the victors, but we always fail to highlight the personal victories that many fighters have. Not everyone starts at the same starting line, but it’s the personal victories that count the most. Today, we’re going to talk about something that hits home for me personally. Our guest today is amateur fighter and my wife Roni “Rage” Mongonia, who battles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Anxiety Disorder. For those who may not have heard of you, would you introduce yourself?

(RM) Hello! My name is Roni. I am 24 and I compete in the 145 weight division (currently working my way down to 125). I started doing Muay Thai for fitness about 3 years ago but I didn’t start taking it seriously and fight training until January 2013.

(TFL) Who did you train under and for how long?

(RM) I train under the Mongonia Bros. and Uriel Figuroa at Revolution Dojo in Downtown. I have been here since September 2012. Prior to the move to Revolution I trained under Kru Pong.

(TFL) Let’s just right into the subject, care to talk about your past and provided your ok with it, talk about the source of your PTSD?

(RM) As a child, I endured a lot of emotional and psychological stress from a much loved parent. All I knew of love and affection was surrounded by hurtful words and angry outbursts. As I got older, things got worse. This person use to lock me in the car and scream at the top of their lungs the most hurtful and threatening things. There were a few times when I felt my life was in serious danger. This was what I thought love was so in my teens I subconsciously looked for guys who treated me the exact same way. When I was 17, I found myself in an even more abusive relationship. I was sexually and physically assaulted multiple times. I thought this was normal until I started having nightmares and vivid flashbacks that started affecting my everyday life.

(TFL) How long of you been fighting PTSD?

(RM) I started showing signs of PTSD and Depression when I was about 10 years old. I would have panic attacks at school and vivid nightmares. It wasn’t until I was 19 when I couldn’t walk outside my front door without breaking down before I was diagnosed.

(TFL) Getting in the ring can be nerve wrecking, even for someone who’s not dealing with PTSD and anxiety. How do you do it? (RM) It has taken me a few years of therapy to get to the point where I have SOME control of my thoughts and anxiety. On the day of the fight I focus on my breathing and slowing my thoughts. I imagine how I will feel after the fight. After overcoming my fears and getting in that ring, win or lose. I focus on one thing at a time. And when I start to doubt myself I scream in my head “I CAN DO IT! I CAN GET IN THAT RING AND HAVE FUN!”

(TFL) What is your fight camp like? Do you struggle with anxiety when you are at the gym?

(RM) When I was training for my last two fights, I would actually have panic attacks while I was hitting pads or sparring. I have learned how to use my anxiety to push me through my training. Nethaneel actually gave me the name “Rage” because when I have a panic attacks in the middle of training, I get a mean look on my face and I take it out on the pads, haha!

(TFL) Now, in your last showing, you had a fever all day and still got in the ring. I know of macho fighters that back out because of a small booboo. In my book, that makes you a warrior. Tell us about your experience at the TBA?

(RM) Yes, unfortunately I got sick the day of the first elimination bouts. I remember just wanting to cry. The thought of having to back out after all of that training and cutting weight was heartbreaking! So I decided to say “Screw it, let’s do this!” I was in bed all the way up until it was time to warm up in the evening for my fight. But, if I didn’t at least try I would be kicking myself for it today! The TBA was a great experience. I met a lot of awesome people and it gave me another chance to overcome personal obstacles and punch PTSD in the face again!

(TFL) What are your plans and goals in the future?

(RM) My current goal is to drop weight so I can compete in the 125 weight class. I plan to keep on fighting! I love the rush I get after facing my fears!

(TFL) Thanks you very much for your time. I think your story is an inspiration for people battling and overcoming PTSD and Anxiety Disorders. Any words of wisdom for someone out there, that might be battling with the same thing?

(RM) Be strong and remember that you are not alone. PSTD and Anxiety Disorders are very hard to overcome but you can do it! Surround yourself with positive and supportive people and talk about your feelings. Also, find an activity that you enjoy that helps relief your anxiety (for me it’s Muay Thai and playing with my cats). I have been working on managing my anxiety for five years now. It’s still a struggle, but if I can do it, anyone can! Thank you for having me!



I find that one of the largest problems in the sport of Muay Thai, is that it is governed by bro-science. Many people buy into a methodology of training, diets, weight cuts, strength training or lack thereof, without applying solid research or thought into what they are doing and why are they doing it, and how does it correlate to the results, desired or not.

There is a world of information out there, and it’s not in a marking department’s advertisement…and it’s not in some new gimmick. People rely way too much on some new “cutting edge” training method or tool. As You’ll notice that none of my fighters ever gas. There is a reason for this, and it’s called strength reserve.

There are several methods that I like to employ, and here are a very that I use for my fighters and myself.


First designed by Russian Soviet Olympic Coach Yuri Verkhoshansky

Click to access Shock%20Method%20Plyometrics.pdf

And here is a great tutorial from California strength.

This article written by Martin Rooney will help shake off the ridiculous ideas that some fighters have.


Strength Training.


And as a final note, I’ve modified these training reagents as followed to apply with Muay Thai:

1. Strength Training

There is nothing fancy or glamorous about this part. just lift heavy stuff. keep it simple, Squats, Dead-lifts, Bench and a lot of Power Cleans.

2. Shock method plyometrics

You can do this with the side of the ring. just find some tall stuff, and jump. pretty straight forward.

3. Endurance training

This part I feel is most important, as this is the part where your training becomes sports specific. For Muay Thai, we use the Thai-pads and Mitts to emulate the stresses and requirements of the ring. you can adapted this to boxing, MMA, BJJ, Judo and wrestling. just tweak it to emulate your sport and demanded.

And that’s it kid’s, nothing fancy… just good old hard and smart work. In the world of Google, I have very little patient for ignorance. not employ science into your training, and follow “Bro-science” is just plan laziness.


StriKing Champion representing orginization at Lion Fight 10


As always, it’s a pleasure to have DJ back with us on TheFightersLife.net and welcome back!
Last we spoke you had just vindicated yourself against Eric Haycraft’s fighter, Adam Edgerton, and took the StriKing Junior middleweight title. (www.Strikingfights.com)
that gold strap looks good on ya!
Tell us what you’ve been up to since last we spoke?

(DJM) I’ve recently switched gyms and intensified my training taking on 7 day a week training camps and working on my boxing a whole lot more

(TFL) How has training been going?

(DJM) Training has been going very good. I’m waking up every morning anxious to knowing where my athleticism will be taken everyday.

(TFL) What changes have you made recently to your game?

(DJM) boxing, boxing, and boxing, really looking to showcase what I’ve learned by utilizing my hands a little bit more.

(TFL) I see you’ve got a huge shot at a pro qualifier fight with Lion Fights?

(DJM) Yes I do. I’ve taken this fight on short notice, but with the way my gym trains, I’m pretty much training for a championship bout everyday regularly. So it will be a great opportunity and a great experience.

(TFL) You must be excited. Tell us your reaction when you where given the opportunity?

(DJM) I literally froze. I woke up to a text message by StriKing promoter Ty Pilgrim, asking if I wanted to fight on Lion Fights amateur card. I re-read the message five times and couldn’t believe what I was being asked. The feeling was amazing

(TFL) Who are you fighting, and what school are they from?

(DJM) I’m fighting Niko Ruiz from Saekson Muay Thai. Saekson Janjira is a legend and one of my all time favorite fighters. I know he trains every one of his fighter’s very well so I’ll know Ruiz will come with an A game, which is what I want.

(TFL) What do you know about your opponent’s style?

(DJM) From the footage I found on him I’ve noticed he likes the clinch very much. I also love the clinch, but I will aim for keeping the fight at my distance so I can work my skills and put on a good show for the fans.

(TFL) Tell us a bit of your training and fighting history, where you started and where you are now?

(DJM) My training is vigorous, a combination of sprints, circuit/weight training, bag work, boxing drills, body conditioning, it’s the complete package. My very first fight was in a club. I climbed up the ladder for a short time by knocking around MMA guys trying to do Muay Thai until I finally started get matched up with kickboxers, and it all has just been getting better from that point. I’ve watched Lionfight on TV and the internet and it’s so surreal that I am actually going to be a part of it.

As a Muay Thai fighter, we often have to work more and spend a lot of money fighting as amateurs, with little pay off… There’s no UFC for us. How long of a road has it been for you?

(DJM) It’s been a long road. I’ve been training and fighting for 4 years and have dreamed of traveling the world and competing as a Muay Thai fighter. To me it’s not about the money, it’s about a passion. I don’t have to have a 10 story house with 5 Ferraris in the driveway, As long as I’m able to do what I love, that’s my payout

(TFL) Well DJ, it’s great to have you back… we’ll be cheering you on at #Lionfight10 and #TFL

(DJM) Thank you, I’ll keep everyone posted via Facebook, right after security yanks me off of Yodsanklai. (Laughs)

(TFL) Don’t forget to catch DJ’s fight and many other great Muay Thai fights July 26th at Lion Fight 10 on AXS.TV

Follow the conversation at @NMONGONIA #Lionfight10

This has been brought to you by the following.


Kelsey Sipes


(TFL) Today we have with us Muay Thai boxer Kelsey Sipes, who’s been making waves in the community recently as she continues her knockout spree.
Kelsey thanks for hanging out with us.

(KS) Thanks for having me.

(TFL) For those who’ve might not yet heard of you, would you mind introducing yourself?

(KS) Sure, I’m Kelsey Sipes or The honey badger.

(TFL) (Laughs) love the nickname. How long have you been training in Muay Thai?

(KS) I have been training around two years.

(TFL) What got you started in this sport?

(KS) I got started in Muay Thai because I wanted to gain complete control of myself, my mind, and my body. I fell in love with the sport immediately.

(TFL) And where do you train and under whom?

(KS) I train at Thunder Muay Thai in Muskogee, Oklahoma. My trainer/coach is Ty Pilgrim.


(TFL) Tell us about your resent bouts?

(KS) My resent bouts where in Iowa at the TBA. The first one I won and advanced to the finals with a second round TKO. The title fight went all three rounds, I won it with by unanimous decision.

(TFL) Who is your current favorite fighter and how do they inspire you?

(KS) My favorite would have to be my training partner, Colby Fletcher. She inspires me to keep going no matter what.


(TFL) Any idea as of future plans, what are your goals as a fighter?

(KS) I want to make Muay Thai my job. I plan on going pro in about five years.

(TFL) How does it feel to have that strap/title belt?


(KS) It feels pretty great; I could not have gotten to this level without my coach Ty, and all the training. Fighting in StriKing events has increased my skill level to where I was able to win the title.
(TFL) Well congratulations and we hope to continue to see you in future events!
(KS) Thank you and you definitely will.

(TFL) What personal obstacles have you over came to get this far?

(KS) There have been a few personal obstacles I had to conquer but nothing that would stop my dream. I don’t live a really normal life, but who would want to.

(TFL) Thank you for taking time out of your week day to hang out with us and the readers.


Gianna Smith

This past week, our correspondent Uriel “Woody” Figueroa caught up with Gianna after her recent win at the TBA.


TFL:               Gianna, congratulations on your championship win in Iowa and thank you for taking time out of your day to talk to us. How does it feel to be a TBA classic champion?

Gianna:       It feels great! I trained really hard for this tournament and I wanted that belt so bad!

TFL:               I bet! Did you know who you were fighting and did you research her or do you kind of just go into a fight adjusting as the fight goes on?

Gianna:      Of course I Google them! LOL anyone that says they don’t is a LIAR!!!! I always Google my opponent when I first find out. If there are any videos of their fights I watch them. And then I leave it at that and just focus on the things I know I need to work on.

TFL:               HAHA, I know what you mean, I am the same way! I get matched, now all of a sudden I am the Google master! So including this fight how many fights have you had and how did you get started in Muay Thai?

Gianna:       This was my 3rd fight. I actually saw a show on Oxygen called “Fight Girls” and I was like wow that looks brutal. At the time I was living in NC and they didn’t have anything like that. A few years later I moved to NYC and I went to take free trial classes at every gym that had it. After my class at Five Points, I never left. That was 2 and a half years ago.

TFL:               Awesome! There are a lot of really good gyms in NYC, seems like the east coast and the west coast are the “Mecca’s” right now with the central states starting to pick up. So now that you have a title belt to your name what’s up next for Gianna Smith?

Gianna:       I’m taking July off from fighting. I want to focus on getting better technically without the pressure of an upcoming fight. I will also be vacationing with my boyfriend so I want to relax and be able to enjoy food like a normal person.

TFL:               The Fighters Life = The Hungry Life is a saying common in our gym Haha. Well Gianna thank you for your time and best of luck in future matches, keep us updated! Is there anyone you what to thank before we let you go?

Gianna:       Thanks! Was a pleasure talking to you. Definitely want to thank Steve Miles, my Five Points family, Eddie Cuello & all my friends at Sitan. I couldn’t have won the belt without them!