Believing In Yourself - The Janet Todd Story
Posted on May 05 2020
The two women stood together. Their breathing was still rapid. After five rounds of kickboxing action, the referee held onto their arms ready to raise the winner’s hand.
Janet Todd was draped in an American flag and a Boxing Works scarf.
The first verdict was read aloud. Janet Todd got the nod. Stamp Fairtex got the second and then the announcer sounded out. His voice echoed in the auditorium.
“And new ONE Superseries Atomweight kickboxing world champion Janet Todd,” he yelled out.
Todd’s gloved hands immediately hid her face from the world as the CEO of the company, Chatri Sityodtong, draped the belt over the new champion’s shoulder. Her hands moved from her face as the moment set in. A look of relief, gratitude, and pride took hold.
It’d been a hard road to the top for Todd. Her first bout in the organization saw her take on the formidable Stamp Fairtex. Todd had difficulty adjusting in their first match under Muay Thai rules and was defeated by unanimous decision. This bout the California resident was able to turn things around and win a split decision win over her rival.
“It was pretty surreal. I always wanted to be a world champion,” Todd said. “It was kind of a weird feeling.”
Fighting out of Boxing Works in Torrance California, Todd put in a lot of work into getting the belt and honing her craft. After her initial defeat to Stamp, Todd went on to beat Wang Chin Long, former kickboxing belt holder Kai Ting Chuang, and then stunningly stopped Ekaterina Vandaryeva.
The surreal high of winning the belt was sky high for Todd but soon normal life began to come in and as always there were people quick to criticize. The bout had been close but for Todd, it was the first time that she’d been on the receiving end of jabs outside the ring.
“There’s always gonna be fans that will be supportive. On the other side are the people that don’t know me, or don’t know the sport, there will always be trolls,” Todd said.
Todd’s been climbing the ranks in America winning the TBA’s in 2016 before moving on to snatching IFMA Pan Am medals and IFMA World Bronze. She’s been slowly but surely gaining attention.
Photo Credit Victor Alvarez
Throughout the journey to the top Todd has come to realize that she can’t let what everyone thinks of her bother her. It is simply outside of her control.
“Why am I listening to people I don’t care about? I care about my coach, my parents, my family, why would I let other people influence me,” Todd said.
Reaching what many would believe to be the pinnacle of a career was a dream, but also it was just a moment in a long journey.
“I think I’m the same old person,” Todd said. “It’s like when you have a birthday, you go from 29 to 30. I don’t feel any different from the day before.”
Todd wants to maintain herself not only physically, she was back in the gym on Monday, but also internally.
“I got to where I am because of how I was. I don’t want to change the person I am because I got the belt,” Todd said.
Todd knows the she must stay the same strong person that she was in her championship triumphant. Afterall, a champ solidifies their legacy through defenses.
“It’s important to defend the belt,” Todd said.
Getting to where she is now takes mental fortitude, something that Todd has been diligently cultivating. Since beginning her strength and conditioning program at Game Ready Performance, head physiologist, Jacquelyn Guerra has Todd working her physical and mental muscles.
“If you’re not able to control your thoughts you go down into holes, Todd stated. “I’ve used affirmations to set my intentions. You’re obviously allowed to feel whatever but by creating affirmations you’re reaffirming what you’re able to do. For me, they’ve changed my mentality from things that negatively hurt me towards something productive that helps me grow.”
Growth within a sport is difficult. There are good days and bad days. And the bad days can be very bad, especially when performing in the ring and against a seasoned opponent. Getting in the ring, repeatedly, takes mental resilience.
“There are days where I think I’m a ninja and then days my feet are stuck in molasses,” Todd said. “Fighting has taught me that there is always gonna be a new day but also just because I won the last fight doesn’t mean there won’t be things that I need to get better at.”
Another bout with Stamp is a foregone conclusion. Whether Todd defends the kickboxing belt or goes after Stamp’s Muay Thai belt, it is inevitable that the two titans will collide again. But Todd grew to her larger than life status by taking chances and by being passionate, that is the real lesson for her, and the one the wants to pass on.
“I don’t want people to limit themselves by what they think they can do. If people are passionate about something, take the risk. If you fail the first time, it doesn’t mean it’s the end. A big part of it is believing in yourself, and brushing yourself off and going for it,” Todd said.