Lucia Rijker grew up in Amsterdam. She learned kickboxing and ultimately fought her way to multiple titles as an international champion. She achieved fame, financial success, and traveled the world, learning about boxing and other cultures. She had no life outside of her career.
A friend from England visited her in Amsterdam and brought her to her first Buddhist discussion meeting. At first, Lucia made fun of chanting, but as her friend taught her gongyo and Buddhist concepts, she realized that "it was the first time that someone gave me something without wanting anything in return."
At that time, the Gohonzon was not available, so she chanted three hours a day to a wall and saw immediate results.
She came to America for a vacation and was able to receive her own Gohonzon.
After escaping serious injury in a major car accident she was forced to look at herself. She said: "I had all this talent and capability and I wasn't using it. As Nichiren Daishonin says, 'A sword is useless in the hands of a coward.'" At this point, she knew what she wanted to do — she found work as a trainer and kickboxing teacher.
A promoter noticed her and offered to mold her into a female Mike Tyson. She turned him down. She explains: "I stand for something. I'm becoming a strong woman who will set people free by what I'm doing. My words are worth nothing if I let someone take my soul and replace it with his own. Now I'm about to have it all — money and everything — on my own terms. [She is scheduled for several pay-per-view bouts.] Because I was patient enough to wait until it came to me."
Professional boxing is full of "trash talk" with one fighter pitted against another, but Lucia says: "No matter what is said by others, I respect all my opponents; as Buddhism teaches, the only way to prove my true strength is to defeat a strong opponent."
Lucia's will is to empower and liberate people through her boxing, not to cause pain or glorify violence.
Is she ever afraid? "Yes." She says: "Fear is natural and important because it make me go deep within myself to find my real strength."
[A more complete version of this experience
is on page 9 of the October 17, 1997, World