LONG time an icon of Melton sport, multiple world champion Iman Barlow is set to go global after she was signed by an international management team.
Iman is one of just 13 fighters selected to join an elite young Thai boxing team managed by new promotions company Fighters Worldwide.
The company is headed up in the UK by Kieran Keddle and Vinnie Shaw who regularly commentate on top international shows. They aim to line up big fights around the world and increase their fighters’ global appeal.
Iman said: “I’m really excited because they commentate on big shows all around the world and it’s a chance for me to go to places I’ve never been before.
“I’ve fought a lot of girls from Europe so it will be awesome to fight in America and Japan.
“I just want to travel the world doing what I enjoy and help people along the way.”
Iman was spotted while making her first appearance at the O2 arena in London last year where her dynamic style immediately caught Keddle’s eye.
Keddle, Fighter Worldwide’s UK promoter, said: “One of the first people I signed up was Iman. She is very young and fit and won a couple of shows I promoted in London - I thought she was perfect for it.
“Everyone remembers her from the 02. English women in Thai boxing are well regarded, but there aren’t many knockouts, but Iman stops girls.
“She can pack a punch, but she fights with skill at the same time.”
The 19-year-old has developed into one of the top Thai boxers in the UK having been trained from an early age by dad Mark who runs the Muay Thai Assassins gym. She is revered in the sport’s spiritual home of Thailand where she fights annually on high profile shows.
But despite her titles and impressive CV, Iman’s image has remained relatively low in the rest of the world, and surprisingly in the UK.
Keddle added: “We have been travelling around the world working on shows for the last few years and noticed that it’s hard for English fighters to get on to the top shows. We have some great fighters here and we want to get them on those shows.
“Iman deserves to be up there and getting a higher profile. She has been around for so long, I’d just like to see her profile raised a level.
“Pound for pound she is one of the best female fighters in the country and she won’t fully develop until she’s 21 or 22.”
Iman has already been filmed by young talent agency Star Billing and is off to London to do an advert for a travel company.
But she will not be distracted from her main business. She next fights in Melton on February 23 at the Market Tavern as a warm-up for one of the biggest bouts of her long career.
On March 30 she faces a tough world title fight against experienced champion Alexis Rufus back at the 02.
The contest is keenly-anticipated and will be near the top of the bill of a show which will be screened live in 118 countries.
Iman said: “I’m going to train even harder with my dad for this one. We have a fight plan to beat her so I will train in a certain way.
“It’s definitely one of the biggest fights of my career - I can’t wait!”