Latasha Marzolla isn’t afraid of taking a few blows to the face, just realize that face will probably have mascara and lip liner. The MMA fighter has been gracing the pages and covers of Playboy special editions almost as long as she’s been competing in muay thai fights. The former high school wrestler embraces her femininity in the ring but that doesn’t diminish her desire to inflict pain and destroy her opponents.
- Nov. 27, 7 p.m., $25-$50
- The Orleans
Taking on Kate McGray in a Tuff-N-Uff bout at The Orleans, Marzolla is eager to prove herself inside the ring once more as she competes in her second MMA battle. The veteran muay thai kickboxer has broadened her mixed martial arts knowledge while training locally at the Xtreme Couture gym. Part of her determination comes from a desire to provide for her two children and show them she can fight just like the boys. Her son, Aalijah David, will be in her corner. Her daughter Aspen Kearney will be seeing her mom in the ring for the first time. Read on to hear more about Latasha’s dual career as fighter and model.
How did you first get involved with fighting?
I lived in really bad neighborhoods growing up and it was a battle to even get out of the house when I was a kid. I wrestled when I was at Las Vegas High. There were a couple of girls at different schools but it wasn’t big for women. It was really hard because the coach was not into training girls. I got discriminated against a lot and it kind of broke my heart. I think kickboxing put it back for me because I had a chance to compete against girls so it was fair. I had wrestled a lot of boys and I really had no chance against them but I loved it. Now I get to do everything I love. I wrestle, I kickbox, I box, I do a little jiu jitsu.
Can you tell me some more about your involvement with Playboy and how that affected your fighting career?
I was a special edition model so I went from photo shoot to photo shoot. If I would have signed with them I would have had to have been on a two-year contract so it wouldn’t have worked out for my fighting. I played it smart and I never would get into something where I couldn’t fight. I’ve had 33 special editions of Playboy and four covers. It’s their lingerie edition. I’ve been with them for over 10 years.
What was it like auditioning for the magazine?
I almost didn’t go. I was out in my car in front of the Rio one year when they had an open audition. I was young, had a small baby and was really insecure. I swear it took me an hour to talk myself into it. I was just so nervous and then I finally got the courage up and went in. Then they called me and I did my first photo shoot soon after then after about six months it just took off.
Do you think the pressures of modeling help you deal with the spotlight and the extra attention given to female fighters?
Everything that I’ve done in my life has helped prepare me for what I’m about to do right now. Yes it does help me because a lot of the girls who are under pressure crack because they’ve never experienced it. I’ve always been looked at. Being watched like I was, I always felt pressure but now I have no pressure. I do it because I love it. I’m just paving a way for myself and women.
What did your family think of you getting into fighting? How about modeling?
The Playboy stuff was never really a problem. They were proud of me. My little brother said, “You said you were going to be in Playboy when you were 18 and anything you say comes true.” Anything I said I was going to do, I did. Coming from where we came from -- we had nothing -- it was huge. With the fighting, my brother thinks I have bigger balls than he does. My mom and dad are really supportive. My dad is actually in town right now, at the Orleans, waiting for me to go into battle. He’ll be there.
Like illegal blows below the belt for male fighters, is the chest area off limits in female fights?
I think girls are pretty respectful and they don’t try to do that but sometimes you hit that area by accident. I don’t think they intentionally try to do it. I used to fight with double Ds. I had really big boobs. After I had my daughter, I got a breast reduction. These ones are built for speed and they don’t get in the way at all. I’m a naturally big-chested girl but I had implants when I started modeling. I rolled over in bed one day and it was like my boob had its own pillow. It was weird. I figured if I’m going to do MMA I don’t want to look down and see that one of my boobs is bigger than the guy’s head that I’m rolling with.