Muay Thai at its best, Alvarez vs Vidaurri, Part II

Saturday, September 17, Muay Thai Championships at the Pala Casino, Spa and Resort in Pala, CA

As mentioned in the previous article, one of the most anticipated bouts on the World Championship Muay Thai show at the Pala Casino, Spa and Resort taking place Saturday involves the ladies. Twenty-one year-old Kristina Alvarez of Escondido, CA will face 26 year-old Claudia Vidaurri of East Los Angeles, CA.


In our earlier article we put Alvarez of the Black House Team Nogueira Gym under the microscope and now it’s time to grill Vidaurri of Valdez Muy Thai about what draws her to such a fighting discipline. After all, these young ladies are involved in a sport considered brutal where the objective is to inflict more damage than your opponent by using punches, elbows, knees and feet to weaken, damage, bruise, or cut an opponent; all of the above to be declared the winner of what? Another trophy, another belt.

During the day, Claudia Vidaurri works for a nonprofit organization that counsels children and their families concerning behavioral issues. Then straight from work she’s off to classes. Somewhere in between she finds time to train with coach George Valdez.

Valdez took over the coaching duties after John McPhail, Vidaurri’s beloved coach since she was 13, passed away a little over a year ago. Valdez owns and operates three Muy Thai gyms, one in Whittier, another in Bell Flower and the one where Vidaurri trains, East LA. His credentials are quite impressive. The former two time champion, California State Champion, fighter of the year has coached 41 champions, three national and two female.

Claudia, what would you consider are your strengths and your weaknesses?  My strength has always been my hands. I work real hard on my accuracy and how I set up my different combinations. My weakness? Everyone tells me I never follow-up when I have a fighter in trouble.

Then you’re more of a tactician then a knockout artist? 

Despite being a five time champion, I have no knockouts, just one stoppage and I was stopped once due to a serious cut on my forehead. I never plan to go in there with the intent of knocking someone out. As I said, on occasion my coach will yell at me. I have my opponent in trouble and then I step back to see if the ref wants to stop the bout. Meanwhile, I can hear my coach in the background screaming at me to finish her off.

Which of your opponents gave you the most trouble?

That’s difficult to say. I suppose it has to be the former Muay Thai fighter now boxer Jackie Nava, the former WBC female super bantamweight champion of the world. In this so-called exhibition, it seemed like she outweighed me by about 10 to 15 pounds. She was 22 and I was only 17. She was so tough and so much stronger than I was.

Did any of your contests ever get personal?

I’ve been in the ring with some ladies that tried to intimidate me. They had the look going on, the tattoos, all the trappings. But to answer your question, no. With me, nothing ever gets personal. I don’t do any trash talking. I am very respectful of my opponent. I’m not a brawler, overly aggressive; what I do is take my time, pick my shots and pace myself.

If we were to discuss the obvious contenders; who are the ladies you’ve set your sights on? 

I really don’t know many of the competitors I’m about to compete against. A friend of mine told me about the article you wrote and there was the photo of Kristina. What I learned from reading that article is what I know now. Two weeks after Saturday’s fight, I’ll be in Mexico to compete and I don’t even know who I’m fighting. What you do in Muay Thai is compete against yourself. When I compete, I don’t have any mean thoughts against my opponent. I just want to get out there and show what I can do.

After working with George Valdez, your present coach, what is it that he brings to the table that makes him the best coach for you?

For over 10 years John McPhail was my coach. Ever since I was 13. Then when he died, I couldn’t train. I had to take time off from the sport. You must excuse me … I was very close to my coach.

Also, the gym was closed down for a while. Mr. Valdez, a close friend of Mr. McPhail, was just what I needed. When he started to coach me, he always gave all the credit to John. He never takes any of the credit even though he’s helped me tremendously. He’s tweaked some of my bad habits and keeps pushing me. And he has a great sense of humor. You remember I was telling you about not finishing people off. He saw it too and began to say, “Young lady, you need to stop admiring your work.” Maybe it’s the way he said it, the timing of the remark, but when he said it, it sounded so funny.

Tactically, how do you prepare now that the fight is just two days away? 

I’m about to go to the gym right now. With it being so close to the fight, I’ll go through my regular routine, stretch, loosen up, hit the mitts, then the bag but nothing too stressful. Then tomorrow I’ll be relaxing all day right up until the weigh-ins.

Earlier in the day, Claudia’s coach mentioned she used to compete at 116 pounds and presently weighs 140, which isn’t heavy if you consider she’s 5’4” tall and put on more muscle.

The most exciting places you’ve visited? 

My trips to Montego Bay in Jamaica and Bangkok, Thailand were certainly memorable.

Do you have any amusing tales to relate concerning your experiences in the sport?

When I first started, they say I would go through my training drills in my sleep. At least that’s what my parents said. “Claudia, you were fighting in your sleep again.” I didn’t believe them. Until one night I woke up halfway through a combination of a kick followed by the throwing of an elbow, mid-elbow.

Has anyone ever come up to you after a fight and asked you out? Are you married or currently involved with someone?

Like Ms. Alvarez, I’m unattached. When you’re training for a fight, going to school, and working, you have no social life. I have an Associates Degree, but still need a few credits to get my full fledged B.S. in Business Administration.

Your ultimate goal in the sport? In life?

When I attain the maximum stature in Muay Thai, that being the WBC Green Belt, then I’ll have the recognition I need. This notoriety can be used to open doors so I can use it in working with organizations … like the one I work for now which helps in the prevention of Child Abuse and Domestic Abuse.

If allowed, what would be that one indulgence, that one scrumptious desert you’d have after a big win?

That one scrumptious desert … a big walnut brownie with two scoops of vanilla ice cream with hot fudge dripping down.

I have attached a Muay Thai knockout reel for your entertainment – enjoy.


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