Australian muaythai fighter Yolanda Schmidt talks the reality of being a full time athlete
Yolanda Schmidt

Reality check! Every sport’s person aspires to be a full time athlete.

However, this is not feasible in every sport. Sadly, within Australia, this is not an option for Muay Thai athletes. You don’t have the luxury of making Muay Thai your only form of income, the bills still need to be paid. Our sport does not have the funding or exposure. Most Muay Thai fighters work an 8-5 day job then rush off to train and your day job takes priority for survival in the real world.

It’s Struggle Street readapting to the way of life of an Australian fighter. Eating, sleeping and training patterns are different. Food choices and timing of meals around when I’m now training is tricky. At night, after dinner, I am not able to simply climb into bed as there are things that require my attention before I can go sleep. The reality is that my priorities cannot remain as they were in Thailand.

It’s back to reality!

After I’ve spent 3 months building a rapport with a new fight team, I return to my home gym and it takes a few sessions to readapt. Not only do I have to adjust back to rounds with multiple pad holders, but also to actually holding pads again for my team mates.

The structure and length of the sessions change. A simple example is clinching, we do so at the end of the session and we change partners each round. In Thailand we clinched at the start of our session and with one person for half an hour. The length of pad rounds differs from gym to gym anyway. For us, at PTJ, the number and length of rounds depends on the specific fight and fight date you have coming up. Music, oh music! Most Muay Thai gyms in Thailand do not play music during your training session. However, being a dancer at heart, music makes me happy, so I love hearing music in my sessions again, even if it’s Singpayak’s Thai love songs.

If I train in the morning, I need to be done before 6:30am, to be at work by 8am. I’m trying to maintain two runs a day, but this is not always possible. Training in Australia is the express version. In reality we are not training any less per session than in Thailand, It’s just compressed into a shorter session. No more sabai sabai.

It’s back to work, so back to reality where I am being physically and mentally challenged all day. No more naps or rest in the middle of the day (not that I was able to nap). Now my energy is distributed among various external stresses on the roller coaster we call life. Therefore, drained by the time training comes around, yet I still give it all I’ve got.

I’ve been given a reality check.

I have no idea what’s been going on in the world, the latest songs or movies. What rock have I been living under? Oh wait, I have been on the train, eat, sleep and repeat regime. If I can gain sponsors, then I am heading back to Thailand as a full time athlete.

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Yolanda Schmidt
Yolanda Schmidt, from Sydney, NSW is the Australian national champion in Muay Thai. In addition, she is a two-time bronze medalist at IFMA world championships. She is also a teacher at Menai High School in Illawong, NSW. Schmidt is a regular contributor to FIGHTMAG, where she covers women's kickboxing and Muay Thai.

1 COMMENT

  1. Work, train, eat, sleep, repeat. That is all I know as well. Barely have time to do anything after training as being totally drained doesn’t help either. Such is our fighter life hey?

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