Cathy Le Mée: often knocking out, sometimes knocked outPhotography : Jérôme Prévost - Text : Lucas Delattre
A Senlisian, Cathy Le Mée (30 years old) is a world champion of « full contact », also known as kickboxing, a combat sport which is practiced with feet and fists, halfway between karate and English boxing, created by karatekas « frustrated of not being able to work harder ».
« I have gone through K.O., I have knocked out opponents and been knocked out », she says. In boxers’ jargon, they call it « taking an elevator » or a « big peach ». « I have suffered a cranial trauma, a broken nose twice, several fractured ribs, torn ligaments in the elbow, multiple muscle tears in the biceps and the triceps… Those are classic, normal injuries ».
A fight does not necessarily end with a K.O., it may come down to the points. However boxers have to hit a minimum of six kicks per round, « otherwise it is too easy, it becomes an English boxing fight. » Is Cathy afraid when she steps in the fighting arena ? « If I get in that ring and don’t feel fear, it might turn out badly, but I must not let fear paralyse me. » Thankfully, she says, there is very good medical care between fights. In case of a K.O., she is not allowed to fight for one to three months in order to allow the body to recover, « because even though it may not look to be serious … this is not insignificant. » « I don’t think I have been disfigured, so it’s alright… When it’s done right, there is no risk ».
Like all girls who practice this sport, Cathy Le Mée says she « likes the technique, whereas guys are more ‘heavy-hitters’ ». Women emphasize qualities like tactical thinking or fluidity of movement, « looking for cracks in the opponent’s style. » « I am too kind, that’s my main fault », she says, adding that she is « not here to do harm but to practice boxing. »
Cathy Le Mée’s passion for kickboxing was passed down to her from her father, who died in 2013. It is to honor his memory that the young champion continues to fight and lead the Eagle Claws Fighting Club in Senlis. If she now succeeds « without him », it is « for him » that she strives so hard to win, « alone on the ring, with the pack behind me ».
Cathy has been boxing since the age of five, with four to six hours of daily training, except on Sundays. « I am a very nervous, hyperactive person, I need something to blow off steam ». To make a living, she is an educator at Saint-Vincent high school ; she works with sophomore students: handling attendance and lateness issues, managing a sports association that she created, dedicated to combat sports. But in parallel, she has been pursuing a professional sports career since 2011. She has accumulated a lot of victories: professional European champion in 2011, three times world champion since 2012, numerous titles won at international events, sometimes organised in Senlis, most often through WAKO (World Association of Kickboxing Organizations).
Cathy Le Mée has joined the French national team in July 2016, which brought her to her first amateur European championships, in October and November 2016 in Slovenia. She fought in two categories (« light contact » and « full contact »), and obtained a bronze medal. She aims to win a new world title in 2017 before probably stopping competition.
The length of a « full contact » champion’s career is hardly predictable: « it depends how good you are at taking punches; the better trained you are, the longer you will last. » Cathy acknowledges that she is « closer to the end than the beginning » of her career as a champion, after twenty-five years of practice and « small pains here and there. »
What future for her at the age of athletes’ retirement ? « To transmit and bring up the young ones » through the club that she manages and of which she praises the open and « healthy » spirit. This club of one hundred members is to her like a family. « There are still beautiful things to be done ».