November 26, 2010
Petite but dangerous
Ainsley Walters, Star Writer
JAMAICA's petite lightweight Danielle Chang has been proving her worth on the female combined martial arts team, grabbing valuable points against Trinidad and the United States in an unbeaten three-match run.
Her only blemish was a loss against Vietnam, but a draw against the United States national lightweight champion Kiabeth Jimenez, on November 13, was a redeeming one.
At 118lb and standing 5' 2", Chang was far shorter than her rival. However, she fought gallantly for a draw, maintaining the lead captain Sheckema Cunnigham had handed the team.
However, she was a bundle of nerves after her coach suddenly called her out to face Jimenez, a taller and stronger fighter.
"I don't know how to explain it but I was nervous, overall. I was hearing about the fighter I was up against. The coach told me to just gear up. He surprised the other team by sending me out. I guess that took them by surprise."
Had Chang lost, the US would have pulled level in points with the Jamaicans.
The daughter of Future Leaders Karate boss Patrick Chang, Danielle admitted she is a bit short for her weight class and might have to follow the advice of female team coach Jason McKay, and fight as a microweight.
"I think it's a good strategy," she remarked. "I don't mind going down, four or six pounds lighter, from where I am at. Most of the girls are taller than I am. It's a bit challenging, but I hear the micro girls are good as well, so we will see."
Chang said she has had no problems switching between karate and taekwondo.
"How I see it, we're doing martial arts," she said.
"All martial arts have kicks and punches. If we're going to get into patterns and so on, that's different."
She loves touring with the female combined team.
"The idea is great. It empowers women," she said. "When they hear about us fighting and winning, it's an accomplishment for martial arts and the female gender."
Coach Jason McKay described 19-year-old Chang as "talented and having very strong spirit and passion when fighting".
Chang explained her ferocity.
"Those girls are fierce, but we are fierce as well," she said. "The level of competition is pretty high. It's very challenging, so we just have to work hard and keep them in our minds."