From ballet to MMA, how Asian Champion Colleen Augustin created history

Here’s a little known fact – mixed martial arts (MMA) star Colleen Augustin learnt ballet for six years before she ended up ditching her tutus for MMA gloves.

The Penangite, who has since created history as the gold medallist at the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) Asian Championships and winning bronze in the IMMAF World Championships last year, was destined to become an athlete as sports is in her DNA.

Her mother, Ang Kee Sim, was a sprinter in high school and is now into boot camps, yoga, hiking, trail running and obstacle course racing. Her father, Frank Augustin, used to play basketball and even boxed while he served the armed forces. These days he boxes at the gym to stay fit and goes for his daily walks with his dog, Rex.

Growing up, Colleen and her bother Nicholas Augustin were always encouraged to be active.

“My brother has taken up various martial arts and now he practises Muay Thai and trains with me too,” said Colleen.

“We would do obstacle course races together when I wasn’t competing,” said the 22-year-old.

Colleen admitted she was an active child who always had “tons of things to do”.

“I even learnt ballet for 11 years, until I was 17 and played the piano. The ballet lessons were fun but I soon realised I was more interested in rugged sports.”

“I would go for hikes with my family, play basketball with my dad and in school,” said the ACE-certified personal trainer and Spartan SGX-certified coach.

While learning ballet, she also competed in road running and train running before turning into a Spartan pro when she was 19.

“I have to thank my ballet background as being light on my feet has surely helped me as an MMA fighter.”

Although she had a short career as a Spartan pro, she finished third in the 2017 Spartan APAC Championship and won the Spartan SEA Championship Series before devoting her time to MMA.

Colleen, a vegan, is also bent on correcting the misconception that vegans would find it hard to bulk up.

Elite athletes like Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, bodybuilder Barny du Plessis, Olympic weightlifter Kendrick Yahcob Farris and MMA fighters Nate Diaz and Abel ‘Killa’ Trujillo are also vegans.

“I believe the misconception is due to the lack of knowledge. It is understandable. I am still learning how much to eat, and what to eat. As for my diet, I refer to my friend Adele Wong but other than that, I follow how my body feels day to day.

“I try to listen to my body and acknowledge what it needs, what it accepts, and what it rejects.”

Colleen concedes veganism is not for everyone but said there are many ways we can help the planet heal.

“The idea of veganism is love and compassion, we love our environment and we love the animals which is why we do not agree in the industrialisation of these animals,” said Colleen, who recently appeared on the weekly YouTube talkshow The RSS with HD.

“I’ve had friends who feel and do better on a vegetarian or pescatarian (no meat but fish is allowed) diet.

“We eat to survive and our food choices can impact the environment and cause less pain to the animals, but you don’t need to be a vegan to be kind to Mother Earth or the environment.”