Te Puke's Emma Diprose recently took a bit of time off from her studies - and returned a world champion.
The 21-year-old Toi Ohomai student won the under-23 female 75kg world title at the IFMA Muay Thai World Championships in Abu Dhabi.
With the sport now recognised by the IOC, but not yet scheduled for inclusion in the Olympic Games, her coach, Duoc Nguyen, believes the world title is just the beginning.
"To be honest, she has got the potential to get to the Olympics. She's definitely got the drive to succeed," he says.
Duoc likens Muay Thai to chess and more technical than people realise.
"You have to be technically good and strong to do what we do and she is quite smart with her fighting skills - you can't just go in there and start smacking them."
At the world championships, because of the small number of combatants in her age and weight division, it was straight through to the final bout where she beat Iran's Saba Chenari 30-26 over three rounds of three minutes each.
Her opponent was given two standing eight counts during the bout and Emma was as confident as she could be about the win before the referee raised her arm in victory.
"I guess, when they were announcing it, you are self-judging the rounds. I wasn't sure if I got the first round, so I was - kind of like - when you think you won, but you're not sure because it's judged on someone else's opinion."
But when she heard the announcer say "in the red corner ..." - she knew.
"You are excited, but you are relieved at the same time because then it's official, I guess."
There were just three entrants in the weight division, with one a no-show.
It's something Emma is used to as in New Zealand there are few fighters in her age group and weight division and she has to fight in the open-age divisions.
"You want to do multiple fights like everyone else, but [a straight final] gives you more of a chance. And I'm used to it."
The fight was, though, noticeably higher in standard.
"For me, it was a goal to compete at one of the world tournaments because they are viewed highly and they are the top [fighters] from their country - they are top athletes."
One of the things she loves about competing is the excitement.
"You never know what's going to happen in those three rounds until it's over and you always have a chance. It's a different experience, different struggles and there are different emotions involved in it compared to team sports. It's quite a personal experience in the ring. Once you are in there you're on your own.
"It's like a raw moment. You can't hide behind anyone else's hard work - if you haven't done the hard work, then it shows."
During the fight, Emma got kneed in the nose and it was swollen afterwards and she came away with some bruising, "but that's nothing uncommon".
The pandemic has prevented Emma from competing overseas, but she says she has used the time to train and practise.
Emma trains at the Red Dragon Thai Boxing Gym at Mount Maunganui and was having extra training in Hamilton in preparation for the worlds.
"I definitely enjoy the padwork and skills more than the fitness and the running, but the academy, they work with me and understand me and how I am as a person and an athlete so they make it enjoyable."
Duoc says he thought at one point after the second eight count the referee was going to stop the fight.
"I was pretty chuffed when she won - I was screaming my head off," he says.
With just one fight there was also the opportunity to study other fighters and learn from them.
"She was definitely a lot better and technical than most fighters there, in my opinion anyway."
Winning in Abu Dhabi has given Emma qualification to next year's worlds in Thailand.