Name: Melissa Reaume Nationality: Canadian Age: 30 Weight: 52-55kg Gym: Team Smandych (Canada) HongThong Muay Thai Gym (Thailand) Fight record: Amateur 10-15, Pro 3-2, 2KOS Titles: 2011 IKF World Classic Women’s Bantamweight Muay Thai Tournament Champion
1. How long have you been training Muay Thai and what made you want to become a fighter? I started training mid 2005. I started as a way to stay fit (I worked at the front desk at the gym for about 6 months before I started training) and fell in love with it. Wanting to become a fighter was not something I really put a lot of thought into. I worked at the gym, and I had never been exposed to the sport before I started working there, but all the people I worked with were fighters, so to me I guess it seemed kind of…. normal. Once I knew I loved the training and kept wanting to get better and better, I realized that a way to really put my skills to the test was to fight. Everyone around me was doing it, so why couldn’t I?
2. What has been your biggest challenge as a fighter? As with a lot of athletes, confidence in myself and my skills has always been my biggest challenge. In the early days of my fight career I lost a LOT. The numbers really got to me, and I let what my record said on paper dictate how I thought of myself as a fighter. I would lose a fight and feel crappy about it, and then I would let it carry into my next fight. How was I supposed to fight well if I was still berating myself mentally about losing the last one? I know now after years of experience, a collection of fights, awesome teammates and coaches and a sport psychologist behind me that a fight record is zero indication of a fighters skills. I think of my losses much more positively now, and it has done nothing but awesome things for my performance in the ring.
3. What keeps you motivated? I really really love fighting, and if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right. The thing I want to avoid the most out of anything as a fighter is under performing. Win or lose, I always want to be able to fight at 110%. The only way to do that is to get my ass to the gym, practice practice practice, stay fit and ready and keep working at things I’m not as good at. I’d like to make at least a small mark in the world of muay thai before I am done fighting, and fighting well is the only way to do it.
4. What has been the Highlight of your Fighting so far? It’s hard to choose just one, but moving to Thailand to train and fight full time has been pretty awesome. As for an actual EVENT, I think fighting on World Muay Thai Angels has to have been the coolest thing so far. It was on my bucket list of promotions and I was matched up with an incredible opponent. The fights were only 3 rounds, but I went the distance with a fighter who out experienced me by a long shot and I think I did really well against her. I lost, but I felt really good about it. Truth be told – I’d like to fight her again over 5 rounds, see if it’s enough time for me to figure her out.
5. What are 3 things people might not know about you as a person? I’m not one of those people who has an interesting story about overcoming adversity or beating the odds. I am a very run-of-the-mill “try to be a good person and focus on the positives” type of person. But here are 3 things just about me in general:
– I have the WORST taste in music. Taylor Swift is my spirit animal and I love boy bands. For real. I didn’t when they were age appropriate for me, but now I can’t get enough. I have tickets to 2 separate One Direction concerts in 2015; one in Thailand and one in Canada. I’m never allowed to choose the music on road trips. Ever. For any reason.
– I’m really into horoscopes and tarot cards and psychics and all that hocus pocus. I don’t live my life based on my star sign, I am into it as a fun thing, but I attribute my being a hopeless romantic and bad feet to the fact that I am a pisces…. and there are some signs I cringe at when someone tries to set me up on a date. (“Oh he’s a virgo? No, thank you.”)
– I have an outgoing personality, but a lot of introverted tendencies. I don’t like being the centre of attention, but I still want to be recognized for my accomplishments…. for like, 15 seconds and then can we please change the subject? Thanks.
6. How would you describe your self as a fighter? That’s a hard one. Feedback that I commonly get from other people is that I never look like anything phases me during fights. So I guess I would describe myself as tough and determined. I definitely have not made it through any fight without getting hit with a few things that make me think a bad word or two (usually it starts with “F”) but since the very beginning, my coach has always stressed the importance of not showing it in the ring. So I don’t. That’s not to say nobody has ever noticed when something has hurt me, it’s happened but I just shake it off and keep going. So far it seems to be working for me.
7. Do you have any special things you have to do on fight day? I’m actually quite superstitious, but a fight day ‘must do’ has never really been a thing for me. There are things I usually do (get my hair braided, eat, nap) and since I’ve been in Thailand I have been eating dried mangoes on fight day and painting my finger nails gold. “HongThong” means “Golden Swan” in English, so it’s a fun thing I did once and decided that I should keep doing it. Nothing super exciting.
8. What is your favorite thing about being a fighter? The part where I get put in an enclosed space with another human and we try to hurt each other. The fringe benefits are pretty sweet too: being healthy and fit, sometimes I get free stuff, and getting rub downs before fights. I very much enjoy all the love that I get sent from friends and family (and sometimes strangers) supporting me in what I am doing. It makes my heart really happy.
9. If you could fight on any promotion what would it be and why? Like I said before, World Muay Thai Angels was on my list… and they are interested in having me back, so I’m super stoked about that. I wanted to fight on it because it was an all female promotion in Thailand, and it is a really big show. They get the best fighters to fight and they get a lot of exposure. When people know that you exist and see you fight, and do it well you get offered bigger opportunities to fight better and better opponents. Upon my return to Canada, I have my sights set on Lion Fight for the same reasons. You have to fight the best to be the best.
10. Any advise for anyone wanting to become a fighter?
Train hard, listen to your coach, ignore the haters, surround yourself with positive people who will help you work towards your goal, and try to learn a new thing everyday at the gym.
Never think that there is someone you can’t learn from. Not just in the gym. No one is good at everything, but everyone is good at something.
My family and friends have been so amazing and supportive. My sister has always been my number one fan and best friend, my parents (and my oldest brother, because he has kids, so he goes all ‘dad’ on me sometimes) worry about me, but they never stop telling me how proud they are of me, and I don’t think they realize how much those words mean.
My teammates have been there every step of the way, always working, encouraging, holding pads, sparring, clinching, cutting weight, gaining weight, lifting weight, sweating, bleeding, crying, laughing, travelling, cornering and (hahaha) sometimes even showering with me. We perform as individuals, but I believe that to be a good fighter, you need an awesome team. I have had that. They are brothers and sisters to me. The family I chose and would never choose to live without.
My coaches. Trevor Smandych. Top notch guy. Ridiculously good fighter and the best coach I could have ever asked for. He truly cares about his fighters, and has a wealth of knowledge about the sport. He always knows when it’s a kick in the ass or a hug that I need, and they are always so well timed. He has taught me so much more than just about fighting. I would not be where I am today without him, and for that I am truly grateful.
My coaches here in Thailand. Kru Joe and Kru Gen. I was very quickly welcomed into the HongThong family. They are so encouraging, and their combined fight experience makes them so knowledgeable, teaching me lots of tricks and also genuinely caring about my well being. They are both also a barrel of fun, and a day of training rarely goes by where at least one person in the gym hasn’t dissolved into laughter. Makes it easy to want to go to training, and it helps to stave off homesickness, because I feel like I am home.
Interview By Natasha Sky Dec 2014, Photos Supplied
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