Orillia’s McKenna “Tiger Girl” Van Allen won her first major title at the recent National Kickboxing Championship.
The Twin Lakes Secondary School graduate started kickboxing two years ago at Black Lotus Kickboxing, where she is being trained by the facility’s owner, Nic Langman.
“I was genuinely interested in the sport,” Van Allen said. “I really wanted to try it, and as soon as I started, I knew I wanted to compete.”
It’s the intensity that has her hooked.
“I’ve never enjoyed a sport quite like the way I do with kickboxing. It’s a good workout,” she said.
Winning championships two years into her career has not come easily; she has put a lot of work into the sport.
“I dream about it at night,” she said. “I’ve put everything in my life on hold to train and see how far I can go.”
Fighting in the K-56-kilogram low-kick division, the 21-year-old defeated three opponents from Ontario at the competition in Niagara Falls last weekend.
“I always tell myself that I can do more,” she said. “I always expect to win but also expect some tough fights, which they were. I was up against some tough girls.”
At the end of the competition, when Van Allen had a championship belt around her waist, she was overcome with emotion.
“I was excited,” she said. “The final fight was one of the most exciting fights I’ve had yet.”
As soon as the competition was over, she turned her focus to her next challenge.
“There were things from the competition that I need to fix and work on to get better,” she acknowledged. “I wish I could fight every day to keep improving.”
On April 22, Van Allen will take to the ring again to fight Hayley Lovely, a rival from Whitby. It’s a rematch from the provincial championship in November, which Van Allen won.
“It should be a good fight,” she said. “She’s tall, but I’ve made adjustments from last time, so, hopefully, I can do even better.”
Van Allen, whose amateur record is now 4-4, has a long-term goal of fighting in ONE Championship, the world’s largest martial arts organization.
“I’ve got to keep listening to my coach,” she said. “He knows what’s best for me and the opportunities that are out there for me.”
During the National Kickboxing Championship, Van Allen also finished second in the K-1 56-kilogram division. Black Lotus Kickboxing students Kai Clement, Dustin Cronk and Kayne Lawrence also had strong showings at the event, finishing third in their respective divisions.