Alma Juniku is defeated by Anne Line Hogstad in Manila Muay Thai kickboxing fight

Alma Juniku learned the hard way how tough life is at the very top of the fight game on Friday night, struggling to impose her will over Norwegian foe Anne Line Hogstad.

Juniku came to Manila’s Mall of Asia Arena looking to take the first steps in her quest to become the world’s toughest woman.

The 32-year-old Hogstad instead sent her back to gym and the experience will also have her checking the ONE Championship rule book closely. The yellow card – and a point deduction – came after she took two steps forward while holding her opponent’s leg which only one is allowed.

‘I got that wrong and that’s my fault,’ said Juniku. ‘But that’s no excuse. I got the night wrong but I am young and still learning and I’ll learn from this experience,’ she told Daily Mail Australia. 

Scroll down for video 

Alma Juniku (left) learned the hard way how tough life is at the very top of the fight game on Friday night, struggling to impose her will over Norwegian foe Anne Line Hogstad (right)

Alma Juniku (left) learned the hard way how tough life is at the very top of the fight game on Friday night, struggling to impose her will over Norwegian foe Anne Line Hogstad (right)

Alma Juniku (left) learned the hard way how tough life is at the very top of the fight game on Friday night, struggling to impose her will over Norwegian foe Anne Line Hogstad (right)

Juniku (right) came to Manila's Mall of Asia Arena looking to take the first steps in her quest to become the world's toughest woman

Juniku (right) came to Manila's Mall of Asia Arena looking to take the first steps in her quest to become the world's toughest woman

Juniku (right) came to Manila’s Mall of Asia Arena looking to take the first steps in her quest to become the world’s toughest woman

On Friday night Alma Juniku (pictured) lost to a fighter from the other side of the planet in the huge arena made famous by Muhammad Ali's Thrilla in Manila fight

On Friday night Alma Juniku (pictured) lost to a fighter from the other side of the planet in the huge arena made famous by Muhammad Ali's Thrilla in Manila fight

On Friday night Alma Juniku (pictured) lost to a fighter from the other side of the planet in the huge arena made famous by Muhammad Ali’s Thrilla in Manila fight

Juniku is a rising star in the world of Muay Thai kickboxing

Juniku is a rising star in the world of Muay Thai kickboxing

Juniku is a rising star in the world of Muay Thai kickboxing

Juniku copped a yellow card from the referee just when she seemed to be working her way into the fight, and then gassing out in the third and final round to lose by majority decision.

The teenager looked gutted backstage afterwards but immediately put her hand up and owned the loss, revealing she had struggled to make the 52.2kg atomweight limit which left her ‘feeling like my legs were starting to die.’

‘I gotta take it.

‘I felt like I was going well and then I just found nothing. I can’t take anything away from Anne. She did really well. I felt my legs going wobbly so it’s a huge lesson for me. I was an off night but I’ll go away, wait for the call for next fight – and make sure I make wait. The crowd here was crazy and I just loved it. I just a bit gutted I couldn’t show what I can do. 

I am only just beginning. My name is out there and I have time on my side. 

Despite the setback, the 19-year-old from Logan, Queensland, wouldn’t have her life any other way.

‘All I want to do is fight,’ she said. ‘It doesn’t matter where I fight or who my opponent is, I have to get in the ring and I have to win.

‘That’s what my life is all about and that’s how I am going to win a world title one day. I want to get to the top.’ 

The Philippine capital has played host to some of history’s most memorable fights – included among them boxing’s legendary ‘Thrilla in Manila’ between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975. 

And Filipino fight fans have a well-earned reputation for being among the world’s most crazed. 

Despite the setback, the 19-year-old (right) from Logan, Queensland, wouldn't have her life any other way

Despite the setback, the 19-year-old (right) from Logan, Queensland, wouldn't have her life any other way

Despite the setback, the 19-year-old (right) from Logan, Queensland, wouldn’t have her life any other way

The teenager (left) looked gutted backstage afterwards but immediately put her hand up and owned the loss

The teenager (left) looked gutted backstage afterwards but immediately put her hand up and owned the loss

The teenager (left) looked gutted backstage afterwards but immediately put her hand up and owned the loss

On Friday night, Juniku lost her battle against 32-year-old Norwegian champion Anne Line Hogstad in an atomweight Muay Thai bout

On Friday night, Juniku lost her battle against 32-year-old Norwegian champion Anne Line Hogstad in an atomweight Muay Thai bout

On Friday night, Juniku lost her battle against 32-year-old Norwegian champion Anne Line Hogstad in an atomweight Muay Thai bout 

First time out, in Shanghai last June, Juniku showed just how much potential – and power – there is in her fight game when pushing Muay Thai legend Stamp Fairtax across five rounds

First time out, in Shanghai last June, Juniku showed just how much potential – and power – there is in her fight game when pushing Muay Thai legend Stamp Fairtax across five rounds

First time out, in Shanghai last June, Juniku showed just how much potential – and power – there is in her fight game when pushing Muay Thai legend Stamp Fairtax across five rounds

First time out, in Shanghai last June, Juniku showed just how much potential – and power – there is in her fight game when pushing Muay Thai legend Stamp Fairtax across five rounds

First time out, in Shanghai last June, Juniku showed just how much potential – and power – there is in her fight game when she pushed Muay Thai legend Stamp Fairtex to the limit over five rounds

‘I’ve always heard about the fans here and how much they love their fights. There’s a lot of history here and I can’t wait to get out there under the lights and give them something to cheer for,’ Juniku said. 

In her first bout for them in Shanghai last June, Juniku showed just how much potential – and power – there is in her fight game when she pushed Muay Thai legend and ONE atomweight world champ Stamp Fairtex to the limit over five rounds before losing the fight on the referees’ cards.

Many fans thought the bout had gone the Aussie’s way but there were no hard feelings afterwards. In fact, Juniku revealed this week that she had hit a nightclub with Stamp that very night.

'You have to have a life don't you,' says Juniku, pictured with her boyfriend. 'I have a partner who is really supportive and time away just going out really helps'

'You have to have a life don't you,' says Juniku, pictured with her boyfriend. 'I have a partner who is really supportive and time away just going out really helps'

‘You have to have a life don’t you,’ says Juniku, pictured with her boyfriend. ‘I have a partner who is really supportive and time away just going out really helps’

‘That fight could have gone either way but I watched it again and realised there was more I could have done to win,’ says Juniku. 

It really keeps you disciplined, focused and you stay out of trouble.

‘But you move on and learn and we went out with Stamp. I was trying to feed her drinks but she wasn’t having it. I guess that’s more an Aussie thing but we had a great time.’ 

Juniku’s natural skills revealed themselves almost from the moment she pulled on the gloves as a nine-year-old on Brisbane’s outskirts. 

Born to a father who had left his native Albanian for a pro-soccer career with Brisbane City, it took Juniku’s family a little while to accept that fact that their little girl was a natural-born fighting machine.

'It changed my life,' says Juniku. 'It really keeps you disciplined, focused and you stay out of trouble. Even though it's a bit dangerous it's really good'

'It changed my life,' says Juniku. 'It really keeps you disciplined, focused and you stay out of trouble. Even though it's a bit dangerous it's really good'

‘It changed my life,’ says Juniku. ‘It really keeps you disciplined, focused and you stay out of trouble. Even though it’s a bit dangerous it’s really good’

‘He was disappointed but I think I am doing pretty okay now,’ says Juniku. ‘I think he’s proud, yeah.’

Muay Thai goes back centuries in Thailand, where it was first used to harden up warriors in readiness for battle. 

These days it has branched out into gyms the whole world over and Juniku – who spends her days training and teaching at Modern Warrior Muay Thai in Queensland – preaches about the sport’s positives.

‘It changed my life,’ says Juniku. ‘It really keeps you disciplined, focused and you stay out of trouble. Even though it’s a bit dangerous it’s really good.’

Juniku's father Afrim Juniku (left of left) was a professional footballer who played for Brisbane City and instilled in his children a love of sports that resonated most deeply with Alma, the youngest of three

Juniku's father Afrim Juniku (left of left) was a professional footballer who played for Brisbane City and instilled in his children a love of sports that resonated most deeply with Alma, the youngest of three

At first she was happy following in her father's footsteps, with her heart set on joining the modern generation of Aussie girls who have fallen in love with soccer

At first she was happy following in her father's footsteps, with her heart set on joining the modern generation of Aussie girls who have fallen in love with soccer

Juniku’s father Afrim Juniku (left of left) was a professional footballer who played for Brisbane City and instilled in his children a love of sports that resonated most deeply with Alma, the youngest of three

Soft tissue damage to her left foot during training scuppered Juniku's hopes of a return to the ring last November but she says she's recovered fully from the setback

Soft tissue damage to her left foot during training scuppered Juniku's hopes of a return to the ring last November but she says she's recovered fully from the setback

Soft tissue damage to her left foot during training scuppered Juniku’s hopes of a return to the ring last November but she says she’s recovered fully from the setback 

Before signing on with ONE, Juniku had claimed the WBC Muay Thai bantamweight world title and the International Professional Combat Council World Muay Thai bantamweight title and she credits her rise in the sport to dedication in the gym – and being able to live the life of a normal Aussie teenager outside of it.

Clubbing – and family time – loom large across her postings and Juniku says the balance between being a warrior inside the ring and the gym and an ‘average person’ outside them has been vital to her growth as an athlete.

‘You have to have a life don’t you,’ says Juniku. ‘I have a partner who is really supportive and time away just going out really helps.’

Soft tissue damage to her left foot during training scuppered Juniku’s hopes of a return to the ring last November but she says that she’s recovered fully from the set-back.

Even though she is still in her teens, Juniku has already seen up close how far the fight game today can take athletes

Even though she is still in her teens, Juniku has already seen up close how far the fight game today can take athletes

Even though she is still in her teens, Juniku has already seen up close how far the fight game today can take athletes 

Even though she is still in her teens, Juniku has already seen up close how far the fight game today can take athletes.

Stamp is a two-sport world champion – holding ONE atomweight titles in Muay Thai and kickboxing – but has also been forging a reputation for herself in mixed martial arts (MMA), and has designed on a third crown.

Another of Juniku’s former foes – Chinese fighter Zhang Weili – took a decision over the Aussie in kickboxing back in 2017 but has since gone on to be her country’s first champion with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world’s premier MMA promotion.

Such experiences have filled Juniku with confidence for both the ‘now’ and for the future.

‘It’s shown me what I have to do,’ says Juniku. ‘Those two are killing it but I am only just beginning. My name is out there and I have time on my side.’                             

'It's shown me what I have to do,' says Juniku. 'Those two are killing it but I am only just beginning. My name is out there and I have time on my side'

'It's shown me what I have to do,' says Juniku. 'Those two are killing it but I am only just beginning. My name is out there and I have time on my side'

‘It’s shown me what I have to do,’ says Juniku. ‘Those two are killing it but I am only just beginning. My name is out there and I have time on my side’

Recommended


Fashion Tips Plus Girls

Makeup Tips For Beginners

Beauty Tips

Hair Care Tips For Curly Hair