She’s the Aberdeen woman who travelled to Asia to pursue a new challenge just as the world was rocked by Covid-19.
But, unfazed by having to live in strange circumstances, thousands of miles from the Granite City, Judy Humber has just beaten a two-time world champion and has hit the headlines in the action-packed realm of professional Muay Thai fighting.
Her victory this month against renowned opponent, Nongbew Sorthepsutin, was broadcast to millions of viewers across Thailand and the Far East and has raised her profile as she chases her dream of becoming a global champion in her own right.
Her success is all the more remarkable because Humber was told she wouldn’t be able to continue her sporting career after shattering her skull while playing for Cove Rangers in March 2018. She needed 122 staples, a metal plate and eight screws.
However, she defied the odds, left her job with an Aberdeen PR company, and the former RGU student is determined that nothing will get in her way.
She said this week: “I am currently in Phuket and I moved here straight after the fight in Bangkok because Chiang Mai is currently in full burning season so the air is now rated hazardous especially for training in.
“I was the clear underdog against Nongbew, who has been involved in more than 100 fights and has loads of experience. In comparison, this was my only my ninth fight and it was my television and superchamp debut.
“I have watched Nongbew since I was just starting out as a beginner, so to be matched with her for this fight was daunting, but I felt that I was ready for the challenge and to be involved in this fight was a dream come true.
“She has fought and won against some of the top-ranked fighters in the world, so this was a huge fight and a big step up for me. This win proves that I am a contender in the professional scene here in Thailand.
“There have been ups and downs with Covid here in the last year, with fights being cancelled and gyms being closed.
“However, I’ve always been able to find ways to keep training in parks or back streets with my team in Chiang Mai, working hard so I would be ready for the opportunity when it eventually came and it finally did.
“Although it’s a dream come true to have fought and won against such an established opponent, I feel like this is still just the beginning for me and I’m very excited for the opportunities that will follow.”
Humber has bridged the gap between entering uncharted territory and proving she can participate at the highest level in what is a fiercely competitive sport.
Yet she admitted it has been tough being apart from her loved ones back in Scotland for such a long period, amidst all the uncertainty around the pandemic..
She said: “I think the hardest part has been being away from my family for so long. We had planned to do visits both ways and none of that has been possible.
“Christmas away from home was especially tough, I have a big family so it felt very strange to be on my own for it.
“Thankfully, I had a stadium fight on Boxing Day so my focus was on that and although I couldn’t see my family I felt like it was all for a purpose and part of working towards my career here as a fighter.
“I ended up with the win on that one too so it was definitely worth the sacrifice. And getting the big fight opportunities now really makes all the down days worthwhile.”
Humber expects to be participating in a rematch with Nongbew in the months ahead, but she has plenty of confidence as she contemplates her future.
As she said: “I’m always up for a challenge so I’m hoping there’ll be some more big fights come my way soon off the back of this win.
“I think the competition is only going to get tougher, so I’m going to be training very hard and staying ready. ”
It’s a far cry from that day on a football pitch in the north-east of Scotland when she suffered an injury which could have ended her career barely before it had started.
She recalled: “I went home later for my mum’s birthday and I was still in my kit after forgetting to get changed, because I was so concussed.
“Then, when the swelling went down, I could put my thumb in my head. The x-ray showed that the doctors would have to perform a big operation.”
But they succeeded. And Humber is now thriving in her Bangkok fights.