A woman on a martial mission
Lani Williams is on an increasingly challenging mission to prove to women that gender doesn’t define strength.
The Torquay mum, who operates martial arts gym The Boneyard alongside husband Matt, first put on the gloves about five years ago after the birth of her son, Marley.
Since then she has enjoyed triumphant success in the ring, having won four out of five fights this year alone.
“I came to martial arts quite late in my life… I wish I had found it earlier and pursued a bit of a career,” she said.
“I found a sport that I actually enjoyed doing. Doing three sets of 10 at the gym didn’t suit my personality – I got bored doing a stagnant routine.
“I feel blessed to have gone as far as I have given my age.”
The couple made the move to the Surf Coast from Melbourne at the start of the year as they both longed for the sensation of sand between their toes.
Lani admitted it was neither her nor Matt’s intention to open a gym once they were seaside bound, but when they both realised there was no Muay Thai training facility in the area, they felt inspired.
“We needed somewhere to train,” she laughed.
“There’s quite a few really good ones in Geelong, and we found a lot of people from Torquay were travelling to Geelong to train.
“We needed to make it as easy as possible for people… having one in Torquay just made sense. The Surf Coast has been really supportive.”
Lani described the gym’s demographic as “really broad”, with a group of young men aged between 18 and 24 making up The Boneyard’s biggest fight team.
She also said her focus area, classes for women, were growing in volume.
“The women range from about 18 to late 40s; a lot of them are mums, but many are women who used to do Muay Thai in a past life, had some kids and now they’re coming back to it.
“And although martial arts is a very male-dominated sport, we are seeing a lot of change in that field. There are more and more fight shows with girls on the card.
“People are excited to watch young women fight now. A while ago you wouldn’t have heard of women fighting in UFC, but they sell shows and tickets.”
Lani is the gym’s only female coach, and while she hopes to find another woman to be her “sidekick”, for now she’s channelling her energy into fostering growth across all skillsets.
“The most important thing for me is to develop and bring out a sense of self-confidence in women; it’s not necessarily to see how far they take it in the sport.
“To see such strength and power come from young women is really motivating and inspiring for me as a coach. The bonds that you see these women build with other women is incredible.
“The most competition is yourself when you’re in the gym.”
The Boneyard is located on the corner of Boneyards Avenue and Cylinders Way, Torquay.
For more information, head to theboneyardtorquay.com or follow @TheBoneyardTorquay on Facebook and Instagram.