Carina Damm: Mixed Martial Arts’ “Barbie Girl”

By Gleidson Venga Nov 29, 2006
This is something very common here in Brazil, men joking about women. There’s no prejudice rooted in it, but these are silly jokes, proving the creativity of Brazilian men.

One of the most known phrases, “A woman’s place is the kitchen,” does not at all describe the pioneering Brazilian women mixed martial artists, including Carina Damm, a beautiful girl who proves that those jokes are overrated.

With her looks as prominent as her aggressiveness and will to win inside the ring, Damm is not only knocking out the competition, she’s changing the perception of women fighters while being considered the centerpiece of women’s MMA development in Brazil.

Damm started training when she was 15 after watching a Brazilian jiu-jitsu competition. It was love at the first sight. She was so interested that even her brother, Rodrigo Damm, decided to train along with her, and nowadays he is a known champion in BJJ, submission wrestling, wrestling and MMA. Years later she graduated with a degree in Physical Education, but she doesn’t work in this area, choosing instead to dedicate herself full time to MMA.

Her first fight was in Vitória, her birthplace, in 2004, and Carina made an exciting performance, dominating her opponent before winning by armbar.

“Thank God I won,” Damm remembered thinking. “Now I will wait to be invited to fight in bigger events.”

Her performance was so good that soon she was scheduled to fight against a debuting Vanessa Porto. During another electrifying battle in which both fighters displayed will and determination, Carina won after two intense rounds.

Today, Damm has seven fights (5-2-0) on her ledger and her reach extends across the world to Japan, where she fought twice against Miku Matsumoto (Pictures), winning the first and losing the second. Damm’s travels to Japan also allowed her the opportunity to train with Japanese stars such as Akihiro Gono (Pictures).

“I see this as a privilege,” explains Damm. “I saw a dream come true when I went to Japan and I fought there, and at this same time I trained with great names of Japanese MMA. It was awesome.”

Her looks drew quite a bit of attention in Japan, and she was photographed for Japanese Playboy in a clothed pictorial.

“Well, I wasn’t expecting their invitation,” she said. “The magazine made contact with my manager and we signed a contract. There wasn’t nude pictures. It was about fighting women. For my career it was very important because Playboy is a very known magazine in Japan.”

“I’m glad to know that they are recognizing my job.” Damm said of the reaction to her. “It is very good to know that I am doing a good job, and people are seeing me and recognizing me.”

So much dedication is the result of the inspiration of great champions, she said. “I take my brother Rodrigo as an example. I admire his determination and talent. I like also Ronaldo Jacaré. He has a unique style, talent — he is a truly champion. I also admire Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Pictures) for his will and his humility. And Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures) is my idol also.”

Besides having the goal of fighting women from around the world, Damm dreams of fighting in what she considers the greatest MMA: “I want to fight in PRIDE,” she said. “And I know we women will conquer our space.”

Her next commitment is in Russia this December, and for this challenge she hasn’t stopped training not even for one minute. Damm’s nickname — MMA’s “Barbie-Girl” — was given to her by the Brazilian press, which alludes to not only her skills as a fighter, but her beauty and compassion.

Regarding the jokes said by Brazilian men about Brazilian women, Damm answered those with classic Brazilian good sense.

“I’m not just a pretty face,” she said. “I have talent also.”
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