If a teenaged Tiffany Teo could see her adult counterpart, she would be unrecognizable.
As a young girl, the Singaporean was heavily involved in choir activities, which she participated in for a decade.
“I was a nerd when I was a kid,” she confesses. “I was not very active.”
Today, the 28-year-old is the polar opposite. With a perfect 7-0 record, the strawweight traded in her songbooks and rehearsal rooms for a pair of gloves and the gym. She went from a quiet, unassuming girl to becoming “No Chill”.
Teo looks to fulfill a dream, and make history on Saturday, 20 January, at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE in Indonesia’s Jakarta Convention Center. There, she will challenge China’s Xiong Jing Nan for the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship.
The winding road to ONE Championship began in the oddest of places — in front of the television screen. Teo’s interest in martial arts, Muay Thay specifically, was stoked by popular reality show “The Contender Asia.”
Motivated by that television program, and a brief stint in taekwondo, Teo made her way to a Singapore gym to start training in the “art of eight limbs” nearly eight years ago.
What started out as a way to stay in shape quickly turned into requests for Teo to test out her skills against real competition.
“I had no plans to compete,” she says. “My coaches kept asking. They wanted me to go to Thailand. I thought it was a crazy idea. ‘You want me to go face a girl that has been doing it all her life?’”
Teo turned down the opportunity test herself in Thailand. In fact, after training for two years, she put Muay Thai on the shelf completely. She packed her bags and headed to the United States to study Psychology at the University of Buffalo, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts.
However, school was far from enough to keep Teo from wondering “what if” in terms of martial arts competition. As each day passed, the fire to compete grew stronger.
With a full life prior to heading to the United States, there was simply no time for her to train, but after concluding her studies, the window opened again.
“No Chill” returned to Singapore and dove head-first into the amateur martial arts scene after just a month of training.
What was meant to be a one-time experience she could cross off her bucket list soon turned into something more serious, all because she lost.
“I hate losing,” the determined warrior says. “I decided to re-evaluate what I did wrong, and I wanted to continue.”
Since then, her journey progressed quickly. First there was Muay Thai. Then boxing. Eventually, she dabbled in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and then before she knew it, the Singaporean was on the road to a full-fledged professional career in the cage.
Today, Teo holds a Singapore national boxing championship, has won multiple gold medals in BJJ tournaments across Asia, and is a perfect 7-0 in the cage, with four victories on the global stage of ONE Championship.
Now, she is on the brink of becoming a world champion. That is all indeed a far cry from her days in the choir.