Mel Walsh

Mel at work - doing what she does

Mel at work – doing what she does

Mel Walsh recently competed at the IFMA (International Federation of Muay Thai) games in Russia, bringing home a silver medal. She talks about family and fitness as the ‘headmistress’ of one of Australia’s premier Muay Thai gyms, Urban Fight Gym.

What do you do for work? What’s your involvement with Urban Fight Gym?

I run the gym with Richard [Walsh]; he does the classes, I do the behind-the-scenes. I’m a naturopath by trade. I’ve been consumed by the gym of late, but soon I’ll get the naturopathy business up and running.

How many fights have you had?

2l fights for 17 wins, 3 losses and 1 draw.

How old were you when you started?

I was born in New Zealand, but I’ve lived on the Gold Coast since I was 6. I started Muay Thai when I was 21.

What attracted you to Thai boxing?

I was a pro junior triathlete. I had a bad bike accident, and put on a whole lot of weight during recovery. After the crash, I was nervous about getting back on the bike. I found Muay Thai accidentally. I started training, lost the weight, and never went back to triathlon.

What do you think the differences are between Triathlon and Thai Boxing?

Tri is all about distance and endurance. Muay Thai is short and sharp.

How did you end up training with Richie?

I started at Boonchu (‘John’ Wayne Parr’s gym) in 2001. 6 months after, Richie was the main pad holder there. We became good friends, got married, and set up our own gym.

What made you want to compete in the IFMA (International Federation of Muay Thai) Games? What was your motivation?

I had put on lots of weight after having my little boy. I was trying to lose it, and I needed a goal. I found out the Games were being held in Russia and decided I wanted to go. They looked at my record and said yes. That cracked the whip on my diet, so I lost the 20kg and I was in.

I had competed in the IFMA in 2003 and won gold. I’ve followed it year by year ever since. Richie is the secretary of Muay Thai Australia, and this is one of main events we send athletes to. When it came across his desk, we decided to give it a go.

Did you have any fights in the lead up?

I fought Melissa Anderson at a Scott Moss show. Unfortunately, that was one of my losses. She was tall and strong. It was a decision loss after five rounds, under full Thai rules. I had a bruised forehead, but otherwise I was OK. I pulled up well, and one month later we were off to Russia.

How was Russia?

Beautiful. Much more modern than I’d thought. Superior in many ways to Australia – the public transport, particularly. The people were very accommodating. We were there during September, which is their spring. It’s cool at night, but warm during the day.

What weight did you fight at?


Who did you spar during your training?

The boys in the gym. Richie was my main sparring partner. We actually work really well together; good sparring, good training partners, which is why we have such a successful partnership. He’s an excellent teacher; and I developed an ear for his voice. I could always hear him [while in the ring] and do [what he said]. I think it was good for our relationship outside of gym, because we’d already belted each other inside it!

How different is the rule-set for the Games, as opposed to traditional Muay Thai?

They are the same rules as pro Muay Thai, except you wear a helmet, shin guards and elbow guards. No knee guards or chest plate. I love fighting wearing pads; it gives you that extra confidence. I liked wearing the chest plate because I walk forward when I fight.

How many fights did you have?

I had two and I won both, but I had to pull out of the final because of injury. I didn’t get to fight for gold, so I won silver instead. In the semi-finals, I copped a few hits on the knee. My inside leg was bruised from the knee to the groin – I ended up with 1.5kg of fluid on it. 12 hours after the fight, I weighed in 1.5kg over. I hadn’t eaten; the extra weight was all the fluid on my knee. I could hardly walk. Painkillers didn’t work. I managed to run and sauna and got the weight off, and somehow passed the medical, but I couldn’t even stand on the leg later in the night, so I had to pull out.

How is the knee now?

Fine. No structural damage. I had some fluid pressure on the joint, but after a couple of weeks, that disappeared.

What are your plans for fighting now?

I’m retired again, for the moment. I’d love to keep going, but it’s hard with a child. I’d need to put in more effort than I have time for with a two year old. It’s hard because you fall in love with it all over again. Now, family comes first.


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