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  Inside Out North West: Monday February 9, 2003


Rosi Sexton
Dr Rosi Sexton in her cage fighting attire

Lots of people lead double lives - but Inside Out met someone whose two passions couldn’t be further apart.

Meet Rosi Sexton - doctor of mathematics by day, caged fighter by night!

Rosi Sexton is an unlikely fighter.

She’s a high achiever in the academic world of Manchester University where she’s just become a doctor of maths. In this world, she’s quiet, unassuming and calm.

But in her spare time she’s also a top British fighter in the rather unusual sport of cage fighting – otherwise known as mixed martial arts. Put her in a cage and she becomes fierce, feisty and quite scary.

Rosi Sexton at her graduation ceremony
Rosi graduating from the University of Manchester

Rosi says, "Both I do because of the challenge. Maths is obviously a mental challenge.

"With mixed martial arts what everyone sees is the physical challenge, but there’s also the mental aspect.

"It’s like a game of chess. The difference is you’ve got to do it while they’re hitting you, which is a bit more challenging!"

What is mixed martial arts?

Mixed martial arts combines techniques from different disciplines like wrestling and boxing. There are few rules making it as true to real fighting as possible.

The cage is there for safety - to stop the fighters falling out of the ring.

In America it’s big business but has only taken off here in the last five years. It isn’t recognised by any UK governing bodies despite its historic origins.

Karl Tanswell, a Mixed Martial Arts Coach says, "It’s the original Olympic sport…. It’s the ultimate athletic endeavour."


It was Rosi’s tenacity, rather than a natural talent, that impressed Karl enough to take her on at his gym in Manchester.

Karl says of Rosi when he first met her, "I thought she was too small and that she’d get hurt… I just wanted to get rid of her really."

"A few women over here want to fight Rosi - but they're not on her level."
Karl Tanswell, Trainer

Through intense training and dedication, Rosi has become successful.

Karl says, "She trains like a pro. She’s disciplined, she takes her nutrition and she rests when she needs to… and that’s what you need. If your preparatio

n is good, then your game’s going to be good."

Dedication is an all-around attribute for Rosi. Maths isn’t an easy subject and to become a doctor of it requires dedication.

Lack of opponents

Mixed martial arts is a male dominated sport – there are only a handful of female competitors in Rosi’s weight category in Britain and she’s fought and beaten them all.

Rosi’s last major fight against Carla O’Sullivan was in April 2003. This means that she has now literally run out of opponents.

Rosi says, "It gets frustrating sometimes. I don’t get to fight as often as I’d like."


Rosi Sexton
Rosi calculates how to be a winner

Mixed martial arts certainly isn’t for the faint hearted. But Rosi claims it’s not as violent as it looks because fighters submit rather than fight to the end.

Rosi says, "It’s one of these sports that the tabloids love to jump on because they can play on the violence, which is a shame because if they could see what was involved in the sport and the technicality of it, I think a lot of people would change their mind."

Despite no official recognition all competitors must be licensed and insured. According to the industry, injury rates are very low.

Future prospects

The shortage of women in the sport hasn’t done Rosi’s game any harm, but with no major fights to look forward to it is a challenge for Karl to keep her motivated.

Now that Rosi’s trounced the available talent in Britain, Karl is looking abroad to Japan, France and America for serious opponents in Rosi’s weight category.

In the meantime Rosi is to continue training and practising. Considering her experience and dedicated personality, it is likely that however long she waits, she’ll be fully prepared.

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