At Perpetual Guardian, our people are passionate about what they do – in the office and in their spare time. We’d like to give a shout-out to Rhiana Eketone, Client Assistant in Dunedin, who stepped into the cage and threw down in her first charity MMA fight to raise funds and awareness for suicide prevention.
Rhiana hasn’t always been a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter. However, after losing friends and family to suicide, she was inspired to fight for the cause of suicide prevention.
When Rhiana heard about a charity fight organised by Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust to raise awareness around the causes and effects of suicide, she joined a team to take part.
“New Zealand has one of the highest suicide rates in the world and I feel more needs to be done for mental health”, she says.
To get ready for the big event, Rhiana had a rigorous training schedule which involved three sessions a day from Monday to Friday, as well as sparring on Saturday mornings.
Starting at 6 am, her training consisted of:
- Weight training
- Cardio-based workouts
- Grappling (including wrestling and jiu-jitsu)
While Rhiana was doing a lot of running and walking, as well as regular boot camp classes, before she started training, the new regime has had an immense impact on her fitness levels.
Although this exercise regime would challenge even the fittest of athletes, the physical challenge wasn’t the biggest hurdle for Rhiana. She says the mental preparation for the fight – and not knowing what the outcome would be – was much more difficult.
“The whole experience has been completely out of my comfort zone so I have really pushed myself both mentally and physically.” Despite all the hard work, she says that the effort has been worth it.
Rhiana also found it incredibly inspiring to train alongside people who were equally as passionate about suicide prevention and supportive of Life Matters’ mission.
We asked Rhiana what she has learned from her whole experience.
“MMA is a full-contact combat sport that allows both striking and grappling (standing and on the ground) using techniques from other combat sports and martial arts, so there is a lot to learn!
Many people don’t realise how much discipline and respect the sport requires which can lead to a lot of negativity and misunderstanding.
I have gained so much confidence in myself and have made the best of friends along the way. It is definitely an experience I will never forget and I am so happy that I have had the chance to be a part of it all”.
Suicide is a critical issue in New Zealand and we are proud that people like Rhiana are active in addressing the stigma surrounding mental health.
If you would like to make a donation to Life Matters, you can do so via their Givealittle page, www.givealittle.co.nz/org/lifematters