Haysem Abdallah

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International Kickboxer Magazine, Jan/Feb 2016

[Fighting] comes down to you,” says Hasem Abdallah, undefeated protégé of Kelly Seif, fighting out of XFC Gym in Carrum Downs, Victoria.

“When you’re left standing in the ring alone, no one is going to come in and help you – it’s all up to you. You know that someone is standing across from you [who is] going to do everything in his power to stop you or make you quit and its up to you to beat him at his own game.”

It’s a simple but functional understanding, and has stood Haysem well in a sport which has become something of a family business for the Abdallah clan.

He holds the ISKA Australian titles at light heavyweight and heavyweight, the WKA Australian title at light-heavyweight and the IKBF International title, all featuring as part of an eighteen- and-zero undefeated record.

Haysem’s brother, Jamie, trains alongside him and is the current AFC Light-Heavyweight title-holder.

“I’m not going to lie; it’s always hard to watch somebody try and hit your brother, [but] I’m always in his corner and he is always in mine,” says Jamie.

While the boys’ mother is not entirely thrilled about it, their father was the driving force behind their career in the martial arts.

“Master Kelly and my dad were best friends growing up, so when I was able to walk, my dad got me started in Kelly’s Taekwondo program.”

What started as a sporting interest for his children soon came to play a more vital part in their lives.

“When I was growing up, I was severely overweight,” says Haysem. “I reached my heaviest weight of around one hundred and forty kilograms, even though I was active in sports; mum’s cooking tasted way too good!”

At that point, Haysem’s father intervened.

“My dad decided [that] enough was enough and got me back into martial arts. I started kickboxing with my cousin. I was doing it purely to get fit and lose weight, but the longer I did it the better I became and once I reached my goal weight, I needed another goal.”

Kelly has always been a fight-oriented trainer and had just the suggestion.

“Master Kelly said, ‘Let’s take it more serious and train for a fight’. It all started from there. I love the discipline of it all; from the dieting to the training, right through to the mental toughness it takes to step into the ring.”

While Haysem’s father may be excited by his son’s burgeoning career, other members of the family are less than pleased.

“My mum absolutely hates it!” says Haysem. “Between me and my brother [Jamie] we’ve nearly had over thirty fights and she has never come to watch. She refuses, and to this day still after every fight she says, ‘Enough is enough; that’s your last one!”

“We have a pre-fight ritual which my mum does for myself and [Jamie] every fight, [and] so far it’s worked for both of us.” Their father is less perturbed by the competition.

“My dad hasn’t missed any of me or my brother’s fights. That said, no- one likes to see their children get punched in the face.”

Haysem has an indefatigable support in his brother, Jamie.

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“Training with my brother is great. We have a really strong bond and it helps to have him there through the tough training camps Master Kelly puts us through to prepare us for an upcoming fight.”

The fact that the brothers have separate interests helps keep them running on parallel lines.

“The main difference [between us] I guess is that my brother really loves MMA and I really love kickboxing [under] K1 rules. I am probably the more technical fighter, where my brother possess some [serious] strength and power.”

If there is any kind of dispute hanging in the air, they are quick to sort it out.

“I spar Jamie two to three times a week. We’ve [done] some heavy rounds, which freaked people out at the gym. They just don’t understand how we can unload on each other and at the end of the round touch gloves and hug.

“We have a philosophy that we would rather one of us knock the other out than [have] our opponent do it. I wouldn’t say there is any real competition between us; we know we both make each other better by pushing one another on a day-to-day basis.”

Jamie shares his brother’s unselfish attitude to sparring.

“We push each other and go hammer and tongs. We compliment each other; he helps me with my kickboxing and I help him with his MMA. We know that we need each other for our camps and careers, so making each other better is the way to go.”

Naturally, with a training partner who is a successful MMA fighter, there has to be some sort of cross-pollination taking place.

“My interest in MMA has begun to grow, mainly because of my brother, Jamie. I have had to develop my wrestling and grappling to be able to be a good sparring partner for him. I have [developed] a passion for wrestling.”

The brothers are well-positioned to succeed, having opened their own XFC gym in Carrum Downs.

“I teach and coach every night after my own training. I am also the general manager of the XFC GYM 24/7 in Narre Warren. I run it during the day, straight after our morning training.”

Spending so much time together seems like a stressful undertaking, but Jamie thinks they have it sorted out.

“You would think working, training and practically living together we would get sick of each other. I’m happy to say… we know no matter what happens, we are going to be there [for each other].”

Fortunately for the Abdallah brothers, Master Kelly’s dedication extends beyond the usual nine-to-five expectations.

“I went to Thailand recently with Master Kelly [and] my brother. We actually crashed his family holiday which he has every year. We were training mainly at AKA Thailand, Phuket Dragon Muay Thai and Tiger Muay Thai.”

Thailand provides a focused, distraction-free environment for Haysem to bring his life into focus.

“The main difference [between Thailand and Australia] is the heat and humidity. That’s the main reason I go: just to kick-start a camp and get my mind to concentrate on the fight and nothing else.”

Haysem is yet to fight with elbows, but isn’t averse to the idea.     

“I actually love throwing elbows. At the end of the day I do what Master Kelly tells me to do. He’s the boss and the one that has got me to where I am.”

As far as tough fights are concerned, Haysem elects Jamie Eades as his most challenging opponent to date.

“I think [Jamie had] just beat Rob Powdrill and had a pretty impressive record. I also got sick the week before the fight, which took a little out of me, but still Jamie was definitely the hardest boy I have fought, one hundred per-cent.”

Rob Powdrill is one of the most dominant forces in Australian kickboxing. The mention of his name raises the obvious question.

“I cant really discuss anything yet as it isn’t finalized, but I want to go for a world title in kickboxing.”

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