We meet Sofia in her gym, Odenplan Fightgym in Stockholm. With her hands wrapped she starts beating up the sandbag, even though it’s her resting week; just to give us the photos we need. It’s just a few days since she came back from the European Championship in Paris, and like always she returned with a gold medal around her neck. Obviously we have gotten used to, and take for granted, that Sofia wins everything she participates in. The high expectations from her surroundings are of course building up a pressure that Sofia is forced to carry into every fight, an issue she will talk more about shortly.

From alcohol to head kicks

In 1989 Sofia Olofsson is born and she has lived in Täby, in northern Stockholm, since then. She grew up as an only child with her kind and always supporting parents. Everything was going well for her, up until the teenage years and secondary school. Sofia had trouble sitting quietly to study, and at the same time, she was lost in her search for herself. “I became quite troublesome and did many bad things. I wanted to fit in, and to hang out with the cool kids you had to party and drink. Even if they let me in, I still felt lonely. When I started high school I skipped classes most of the time, and eventually I dropped out. It’s incredibly stupid but I was extremely immature back then.”


When she was 16-17 years old, Sofia got a job in the reception at Rellos Gym, which was located in the same facility as the Muay Thai gym Slagskeppet. Slowly but surely, the muay thai training started replacing the partying for Sofia, she met her current partner Markus Österblom and her maturity grew year by year. “I wasn’t really interested in muay thai at first, but it was beneficial for me to have something to put my time into. I stopped drinking completely as I realized I can’t handle alcohol; it got out of hand every time. Since then I don’t drink at all, and many people find it weird that I don’t even take a glass to celebrate. But alcohol gives me a lot of anxiety, plus it doesn’t feel worth it when I train as hard as I do.”

Sofia’s serious training started when trainer Lex (Taeng-Am Prajerd) came to the gym. They initiated their road to success together, but to fully bloom they first had to change gym. “Lex and I clicked straight away, and it’s truly amazing to train with him. He prepared me for the Europeans 2014, the first time I won that tournament. I think a jealously was building up at Slagskeppet because I got so much time with Lex. I felt that we weren’t allowed to have a saying in our own training, and we always had to be extremely thankful toward the gym. The atmosphere wasn’t very positive at all towards the end. So when Odenplan Fightgym opened up in 2014, many of us moved.”


An emotional champion

It’s an incredible record that Sofia possesses, with e.g. Swedish Nationals gold five years in a row and winner of the World Games. Her next challenge is scheduled to 25th of November at Rumble of the Kings, when she faces the muay thai pro queen of the world, Iman Barlow. “I’d definitely say that she’s my toughest opponent so far; she’s the best in the world if you look at pros. Us fighting each other has been talked about many times, but this is the first time it will actually happen. I see it playing out as a very tough and close fight, five rounds of war that will end by decision with a small margin for the winner.”

Sofia always look tough and hard in the ring, but as a matter of fact, a completely different side of her appears in the locker room before fights. “I cry before every fight, and it’s just getting worse and worse with time! It’s a mix of nervousness and panic that builds up inside of me, goddamn it’s terrible! My trainers get to take a lot of shit from me in those situations. That I even manage to get into the ring every time is a miracle, ‘cause these are serious breakdowns. But we’ve concluded that it’s a natural process that I have to fight through every time, just letting it all out. I think it comes from the fact that each fight feels extremely important for me to win, plus all the expectations from others.”

Even though Sofia describes herself as introvert and bad at marketing herself, she has lately received a lot of attention from many directions. For example, she got selected to participate in Stadium’s project Fill the Stadium together with other famous athletes such as swimmer Sarah Sjöström and football player Kosovare Asllani, to work for gender equality in sports. Just recently, Sofia was also presented as a BRIS idol 2017, where she and Miriam Bryant and Linnéa Claeson among others, will strengthen and inspire kids by sharing their childhood stories.

Photo: BRIS (Brisidoler 2017) / Stadium (Fill the Stadium)


Sofia’s future

When you’ve won the most prestigious titles, it’s easy to understand if the motivation to train hard and keep a diet, starts to decline. But Sofia wants to continue, at least for a while. “I’ll keep on competing in both IFMA and WMC. We’re thinking about trying to win the WMC belt in the weight class above mine as well. It would be nice to have two belts, just like McGregor! At the same time, my manager is always busy looking for pro fights for me. But of course I won’t keep fighting forever. I’d say I’ll keep fighting two more years. Then my plan is to leave the competitions and private classes behind me and return to school. I want to get my high school diploma so that I eventually can become an animal keeper, that’s my goal after my fighting career!”

When we meet with Sofia, UFC 217 is one week away, a show she’ll definitely watch. “Actually I don’t watch much muay thai. Muay thai is my job, so it’s more fun to watch other sports when I’m free and want to relax. I watch UFC and some boxing. Joanna (Jędrzejczyk) is great to watch, and Valentina (Shevchenko) as well. Joanna has won countless of IFMA championships. And next week when she faces Rose (Namajunas) I see it being a short fight. It won’t take her long to stop Rose.” When we ask who she’d like us to interview, the answer is easy: “Joanna!”

We thank Sofia Olofsson for taking time during her valuable resting week, and wish her good luck in the fight against Iman Barlow at Rumble of the Kings!