Zoe Putorak: Rises to the top

Zoe Putorak: Rises to the top

NRF Featured Fighter: Zoe Putorak

In this edition of our Fighter Spotlight Series, we catch up with Muay Thai Professional Fighter and current IFMA Women’s Elite World Champion Zoe Putorak.

Zoe was introduced to Muay Thai in 2008, just shy of her ninth birthday and made her fighting debut in 2013, aged 14, after being inspired by the many other talented fighters at her gym – Phoenix Muay Thai, at Mitchell in the ACT.

Training under the expert instruction of head coach and owner Anthony Manning, along with Tracy “T3” Yeomans – and now with six years competition under her belt, Zoe has embraced her life as a Nak Muay.  Training twice daily between 1.5 – 2 hours for each session, which includes pads, drills, or sparring.  Zoe also undertakes strength training a few times a week and goes for long runs along the local mountain ranges.

Whilst Zoe remains focused on her development, she believes that to constantly improve and develop into a fearless fighter, it is important to understand the fundamental learning process of Muay Thai from the outset – and from there, how you develop your game is of utmost importance. This is where having the support of a knowledgeable team behind you becomes incredibly important.

Zoe and her coaches work on a number of areas in training that have helped her become the fighter she is today.  These include fitness, diet, mindset, tactical/strength training and importantly game plans, including; learning how to read your opponent, how to notice patterns or repeated combinations that emerge mid-fight and how to counter them.  Also learning how to take hits fearlessly and respond with calculated precision.

Despite her youth, Zoe’s fight record is impressive, with 24 fights (21-3-0), eight (8) of which were knock-outs – making Zoe one of Australia’s most successful upcoming female Muay Thai fighters to cross the ropes.  

With a long list of accolades to her name, including:

  • Gold Medalist – IFMA Junior World Champion (2016)
  • WAKO Oceania Champion (2017)
  • 2 x WAKO Junior Australian Champion (2015, 2016)
  • Gold Medalist – IFMA Junior Australian Champion (2017)
  • WKBF NSW State Champion (2017)
  • 2 x Gold Medalist – MTA National Championships (2017 & 2018)
  • WMC Australian Champion (October 2018)
  • Silver Medalist – IFMA World Championships (A Class) (July 2018)
  • Gold Medalist – Arafura Games (May 2019)
  • Gold Medalist & Elite World Champion – IFMA World Championships (A Class) (July 2019)
  • IFMA Rising Star Award (2019)
  • IFMA Breakthrough of the Year Award (2019)

Winning Gold at the Arafura Games in Darwin in May, qualified Zoe for the 63.5kg slot at the World Games 2021 in Birmingham, UK and whilst honoured to represent Australia – of her winning streak, Zoe remains incredibly humble.

Ever since I started fighting, my goal has been to have as many fights as I can and it remains the same… I just want to fight and win. There is no better feeling than going into the ring, knowing you’re about to put all your training and hard work into the next 20 minutes. I feel nothing but excitement and joy when stepping into the ring. I can’t relate when people say how nervous they get, the way I think [is, I] enjoy every second of it – fighting is literally what we train for”

Zoe Putorak

Zoe ensures she carefully manages her expectations before a fight, to get into the right mindset, to be unflappable!  When fighting, especially in bouts with Full Thai Rules (which includes the use of elbows) this becomes essential to your success.

It’s no secret I love elbows, they are the most brutal technique in the sport and it’s without a doubt my favourite weapon”

Zoe Putorak

 Zoe proudly recalls one of her most memorable bouts, as being her technically beautiful fight for the WMC Australian title against Leonie Macks.

It was my first fight where I had really stepped it up and started my current training schedule. [It was also] the fight where I realised how much I loved elbows. It was amazing to fight [Leonie], she was really tough, it was a really good fight”. 

Zoe Putorak
Zoe with Leonie Macks before their WMC Australian Title Bout

And whilst her fights are, at often times ‘brutal’, particularly with the use of her favourite weapon ‘the elbow’ searching for that knock-out victory, Zoe maintains that outside the ring, there is nothing but respect, friendship and goodwill on the other side of the ropes. Participating in women’s combat sport at such a high level and matching up with such a high calibre of opponents has given Zoe the opportunity to make huge improvements as a fighter, enabling her to develop a style that is full of aggression and power. Of her opponents Zoe is inspired by many, including the current quality line up of female fighters making waves in the Muay Thai scene in Australia and internationally, however her favourite fighter of all time (and also her cornerman) is Lee ‘Hard As’ Fook.

I look up to him the most out of any fighters. I see his fights where he shows how much skill, power and heart he has, and it inspires me to do the same”.

Zoe Putorak

Whilst Zoe has a life dominated by Muay Thai, she also has many hobbies outside the ring. “I really enjoy make-up artistry, I like how creative you can be when coming up with different looks. I also like to cook, especially baking, but weight cuts usually get in the way of that. Going to coffee shops is also big in my life”. It is important to take time outside the gym to enjoy yourself and make time to rest and recover. Nurturing the body post-fight is especially important, and of her recovery tips, Zoe suggests to

ice everything. Even if you feel okay after the fight your body needs it”. 

Zoe Putorak

Of her golden advice for up and coming females, Zoe believes that cultivating good habits, and establishing a strong foundation from the outset, play an essential role in positive development. Focus on mental training, overcoming fear and positive self-talk – establishing the right mindset is the essence of becoming a successful athlete, no matter what sport you undertake.

Keep with it. Some days you may not feel like training or have a rough time at the gym, but if you want to succeed you need to bite down, suck it up and stick with it. It will only make you stronger. Always stay humble, never gloat and don’t let anything go to your head. Help others, what goes around comes around. Remember where you come from and who has helped you to get where you are”

Zoe Putorak

To book Zoe Putorak for a fight, get in touch with our NRF Fight Management Team.

Photo credits: W.L Fight Photography