Atty. Karen Jimeno (right) doing Muay Thai drills.
MANILA, Philippines -- Many people remember Atty. Karen Jimeno as one of the pretty faces of then Chief Justice Renato Corona's defense team. With her good looks, she held the public captive whenever she spoke on live television.
But Jimeno is more than just a pretty face.
She graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines Diliman Law School and was able to hold her own among male colleagues in the much-publicized impeachment trial of Corona. Just recently, she secured a license to practice law in New York City.
One would not imagine her visiting a mixed martial arts (MMA) gym, let alone throwing punches at a heavy bag.
So naturally, people were quite surprised to see the lady lawyer attending the ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) press conference last Thursday.
“I’ve always loved sports,” Jimeno told ABS-CBNnews.com. “’Yung sa MMA matagal na… siguro nung nasa law school pa ko nun, nagustuhan ko siya. In fact, I started early on boxing pa lang e, nung hindi pa sikat si [Manny] Pacquiao.”
Aside from trying out boxing, Jimeno said she also practiced Muay Thai, one of the disciplines typically used in mixed martial arts.
She confessed that she recently has been cutting back from her Muay Thai sessions, because her officemates were starting to notice the bruises she’s been getting from all the kicking.
“So ‘pag naka-skirt ako, lagi akong tinatanong, 'Saan galing 'yung pasa mo?’ I always say, ‘No, this is from Muay Thai.’ Pero lagi akong binibiro na may battered woman syndrome na raw ako,” Jimeno said, laughing.
The lawyer said she was drawn to combat sports, especially mixed martial arts, because of the challenges it entails.
Jimeno said MMA, which allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, forces the athlete to use every skill that he has.
“I really love it because you recognize the athletes for all the skills they have. It’s really merit based, it will reflect your hard work tapos exciting pa s’ya,” she said.
Jimeno also praised the entry of former female pro boxer Jujeath Nagaowa to the world of women's MMA.
Nagaowa, who will be the first Filipina to compete in ONE FC, will be joining fellow Pinoys Honorio Banario and Eduard Folayang in ONE FC: Moment of Truth this December.
“For me that’s very remarkable,” said Jimeno. “Because we have to admit that if you look at all types of sports, NFL, basketball, football, they are still dominated by men. Especially for mixed martial arts, I think the traditional way of thinking is it’s not a sport for women.”
“So to have women become featured in MMA, it shows that start to recognize women as good athletes even for contact sports or sports that they would likely physically injured," she added. "So it just shows that women are starting to become viewed as just as good and just as tough as men. That means a lot.”