With Finland making headlines for their super talented female divisions, Sweden will be making its mark in the coming years.
Anja Saxmark was one of two females representing the country at the IMMAF this past weekend (bantamweight Lisa Engelke was the other). Saxmark would take home a silver at flyweight and has proven Swedish women can have success on the world stage.
“The girls are really, really good and they are really tough,” Saxmark told us. “You have to be in really good shape. You have to be strong and lift weights outside of MMA. Most of us girls train with the guys so I am very strong, but the guys hold back a little bit. When you get into the ring with the girls you are like ‘Wow she is tough!'”
Having done seventeen kickboxing bouts during her two year career in that sport, Saxmark transitioned to MMA two years ago and hasn’t looked back. She took up submission grappling to round out her game.
Fighting out of Gladius MMA, Saxmark is a fine example for the other female fighters in her gym.
“Not many women are competing yet, but in a group of 30-40 guys at our gym there are 5 girls, so it’s a few. I am the only girl in the competing group. Last year I applied for every fight I could, and the only one I got was the one that qualified me for the national team.”
She tells us that it won’t be too long before we will see a few of these women make the transition to competing like she has. Even outside her team, Saxmark has been doing her part to spread the word about MMA, even if competing isn’t the ultimate goal.
“I think it’s a really good sport for women because we are born weaker physically and it’s good to build sslf esteem. We need to learn to protect ourselves. I think it’s a very healthy sport. I am a personal trainer and I would recommend anyone train martial arts for just the cardio.”
While it maybe a while until we see Sweden catch up with the rest of the world, Saxmark has help her country get a jump start to make it’s mark in the women’s divisions.