CURIOSITY led Rachael Phillips into karate, a mate put her onto kickboxing but a thirst to better herself has made her a world title holder.
The 42-year-old kickboxing convert scored the IKBF bantamweight world title on June 16 when she beat New Zealander Gaela Nixon in Lilydale.
The win came seven years after Phillips took up the sport and made up for a drawn bout for a world title last November.
Phillips, who trains in Lilydale and Ferntree Gully, said she was excited to hold a world title.
"It took all seven rounds and it was a very active fight. Usually, people stalk each other but we didn't bother, just jumped straight into it," Phillips said.
"She fought very hard and had lots of combinations. I put her down twice by kicking her off her feet but it went the distance and I won with a unanimous decision.
"There was no confusion this time."
Phillips said she had always had an interest in fitness and works as a personal trainer and swim teacher. She got into kickboxing via karate, which her son had started doing.
"I just joined with my kid's karate class because I'm not a sit-around person.
"The person taking the classes was competing in kickboxing as well.
"I did a fitness class for it and like the level of fitness it required, then started fighting as a 35 year old."
It wasn't the combat that attracted Phillips but the constant need to better one's self to remain competitive. "You can't rest; there is always something new to do."
When her initial gym closed, Phillips moved to Fighting Fitness in Lilydale, run by former world champion kickboxer Nick Lundh.
Phillips said Lundh was "pretty active" in kickboxing and he soon set up her first fight. From there she rose through the ranks to her world title fight.
She said the combat side of the sport was much different from how it was perceived.
"It's not as aggressive as people think. I don't feel angry or want to hurt anyone. It's more competitive. As you fight more, you fight better people who hit harder but you both want to win and I've never had an ungracious opponent."
Phillips did have to rise above questions about her age and ability in her early fights.
She hopes her world title will raise people's expectations of fighters over 35.
"I was getting changed before a fight and the girl I was fighting came in and said 'I hear the person I'm fighting is 30'.
"I said to her 'no, she is actually 40'. The girl said 'do you know her?'. I said 'I am her'. Luckily, I won that fight."
Phillips continues to train. She said the sport had given her plenty but also required a lot of sacrifices for training.
"The gym is my pub, my lounge room, my church and where my mates are.
"My teenage son gets a bit nervous about me fighting but he still comes along and watches, although I'm sure he would rather I stay home and make cupcakes."