10 daring thinkers who defied the rules

Nadine Champion, kickboxer and martial artist

3 / 10

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3. Courage of a champion

Nadine Champion
Kickboxer and martial artist 

“Ten seconds of courage is all it takes to start” is the challenge that martial arts champion Nadine Champion likes to pose. It’s that moment of courage, she says, that allows you to take the next step to give yourself a chance to fulfil personal and professional goals. 

Champion won gold at the World Cup of Martial Arts in Sydney in 2008 and remains unbeaten as a kickboxer, martial artist and Thai boxer on the Australian circuit. While she loves sports that emphasise physical preparation and strength, she says training your heart and mind is more important. 

Champion learned this powerful skill from legendary American martial arts sensei Benny “The Jet” Urquidez. While he taught her how to kick and fight, his lessons in mental strength and resilience have had more profound effects – strive to be your best on your worst days; change your thinking; and remember that “you are only capable of the things you decide you are capable of”.

She drew on those skills while undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma in 2013. On the last day of treatment, Champion was at her lowest ebb and wanted to give up. She very nearly did. But she clambered out of that emotional hole, knowing that “it doesn’t hurt any less if you shut your eyes”.

Having someone like Urquidez in her corner was paramount in her recovery.

“Who’s in your corner? Have you asked anyone to be in your corner? Whose corner are you in?” she asks. 

While Champion hasn’t yet returned to competition, she hasn’t officially retired either. “You never know what the future holds,” she says. 

For now, she is devoting her energy to inspiring others to fulfil their potential. 

“It’s beautiful being able to share your life experience and the things that mean so much to you in the hope that others will take something useful away for themselves.”