“There’s a peace that comes over me when I fight,” Carmen Corchado said, calm and collected, searching to put into words the feeling inside the ring.
The Bushwick-native will appear in the ring at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater, competing for a championship belt among some of the highest ranked Muay Thai Kickboxing champions in the world.
Corchado grew up on Knickerbocker Avenue in a Puerto Rican family with older brothers. When they fought, she did too.
“My family wasn’t the most fortunate. We had to be protective. I think the whole boxing thing was something we had in our blood,” she said.
When her brother, Angel Corchado, went off to become a featherweight-class MMA fighter, he put her in contact with his old trainer, Aaron Fisher, who as it happened, was just opening a Muay Thai gym in midtown.
There, Corchado discovered a burning passion.
“She had the fire inside,” Fisher told Bushwick Daily.
Corchado had worked in YMCAs and had a handle of kickboxing as a workout routine but it wasn’t until discovering Muay Thai, a specific tradition of kickboxing that traces its roots directly to Thailand, that she found her place as a fighter.
“This tradition. It has a whole history. It gives what we’re doing more meaning,” she says, “There’s a reason we’re doing each kick and each punch. There’s a story behind it.”
Corchado’s own punches look incredibly deliberate, each blow landing carefully and precisely. Fisher describes the first fight he saw Corchado in, she had to be pulled off a far more seasoned opponent. Now T-shirts with her face on them hang daintily at the front of his gym. She hasn’t lost a major fight yet. He seems proud of what she has accomplished and has a cautious respect of her determination and power.
Corchado still lives in Bushwick, though she lives closer to Ridgewood now, taking the M train daily to train and teach Muay Thai classes at Fisher’s gym, Kings Thai Boxing. This is something that affects her greatly.
“I want to share what Muay Thai has done for me and pass that to people,” she said.
Photos courtesy of Andrew Karpan