Tasha Chambers calls the shots no matter what ring she's in

Palmerston North martial arts referee Tasha Chambers is a trailblazer when it comes to women officiating in combat sports.
Warwick Smith

Palmerston North martial arts referee Tasha Chambers is a trailblazer when it comes to women officiating in combat sports.

Palmerston North's Tasha Chambers would have to be one of the most accomplished combats sports referees in the country.

Chambers, who runs Fight Shop NZ with her husband Stew, is thought to be the first woman in New Zealand to referee a New Zealand Professional Boxing Association title fight, as well as referee mixed martial arts, Muay Thai kick boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

The only combat sport she has left to tick off when it comes to refereeing is wrestling, which she hopes to do in the next two years.

"I'm pretty sure, even though I don't play the gender role, I definitely am the only female that does BJJ, the MMA, the boxing and the Muay Thai," she said. "Even amongst the men, a lot of the guys all cross codes."

It was recently her one-year anniversary of being a boxing referee and in September was when she refereed the title fight between Rebecca Jennings and Daria Smith in September, where Jennings won.

The 37-year-old Chambers only found out right before the fight that she was the first woman to do a title bout.

Last year she got her accreditation for Brazilian jiu-jitsu and New Zealand grappler, and then her name was forwarded to the NZ PBA, who asked her to come on board.

She said she tries to get on the mats as much as possible, for all sports.

"I'm just in there to do my job I do it because I love it. I think it's the best seat in the house.

"I want to do Joseph Parker fights, I want to get to the UFC, I want to get to the Olympics with Muay Thai."

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She still has to get her international accreditation for boxing and Muay Thai, but with all her other commitments, she can't pop overseas at the drop of a hat to get qualified.

There are Muay Thai world championships in Thailand next year she hoped to get to.

MMA is the slowest progression in terms of her accreditation.

She said when it comes to refereeing, the No 1 thing is the safety of the fighters, regardless of what sport you're in.

Chambers originally started reffing Muay Thai about 15 years ago, but has been involved in the sport for more than 17 years.

She started out as a ring emcee, but realised that wasn't for her.

She then had a couple of novice MMA fights and although she didn't get to any great heights, she was the first kiwi female to fight in a cage, about seven years ago against Kate da Silva in Auckland.

Chambers has just finished her second year of bachelor of sport and exercise science at UCOL, which ties in with her coaching too.

The Chambers took over the Manawatu Martial Arts centre about 15 years ago and it became Fight Shop, which has been at their location on Church Street for about eight years.





 - Stuff

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