Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Melissa Ray retires from Muay Thai

Melissa Ray, MuayThai fighter from England has hung up her gloves. Ray has 41 professional fights and about eight amateur bouts to her name. She held the WPMF 126lb title, S-1 126lb title, and the WMA 57kg title. She talks here about why she is retiring.

So, let’s start with the good stuff, what was the highlight of your career?
Winning my first title (WPMF 126lb) during a rematch with Praewa Sor Penprapa on the Queen’s birthday, 2009. I lost the first bout on points with many of the gamblers disagreeing with the decision and throwing bottles and beer cans in the ring. Following that fight I was out of action for a long time after tearing a hamstring while sprinting. The rematch was my first bout in eight months.

You’re living in Thailand now, but you trained at a number of different gyms, which ones did you spend the most time at?
In England, I trained at King’s Cobra Gym, Co. Durham while I was studying my PhD, then trained at Dean White’s Gym when I moved back home to Yorkshire. My first gym in Thailand was Muay Thai Plaza 2004, then I spent a period of time at Chay Yai Gym in Chiang Mai, and have trained at Eminent Air Boxing Gym since the end of 2007.

I am grateful to so many people who have helped me along the way but have particular affection for Mr. Somboon and the people at Eminent Air. I have had excellent training with them and some amazing fighting opportunities.

Melissa in MuaySiam magazine
But in the last few months, retirement has been on your mind, what brought about the change in attitude?
I suppose my main consideration was money and a career. I’m 34 next month and there’s only so long you can dedicate so much time to what is essentially a hobby. It is hard to combine training and work, especially in Thailand due to the long training hours, which are also during normal office hours since the gyms are mainly catering for professional fighters. Particularly within the last year I have found the training much tougher on the body, with injuries becoming more frequent.
I think as you age you can still handle the hard training sessions but rest and recovery become increasingly important and it can be hard to factor in time for that.
The other change I’ve noticed as I’ve got older is the weight is much harder to keep off – for me it does unfortunately seem to be true about the metabolism slowing in the thirties!

And then an injury in June brought that decision forward?
I fell during sparring and my left arm went down to break the fall but bent at a strange angle. I remember hearing a ‘popping’ sound and feeling pain instantly. An MRI scan revealed that a group of tendons in my elbow had torn completely. During surgery a metal ‘anchor’ was placed in my arm which reattaches the tendons to the bone. Recovery will take six months to one year.

Some athletes find they miss the adrenalin buzz of competing, how are you adjusting to life without training?
Well, I can’t seem to stay away from the gym. Even though I can’t train Muay Thai I still go and run with the others, do sit ups etc. I miss the routine and the feeling when your body’s working hard; the heart’s pounding, the endorphins have kicked in, and you’re drenched in sweat.

Of course, now I can’t fight that’s the thing I would like to do most! After talking about retirement for so long, when that decision is taken away from you it makes you appreciate the things you were able to do before. To be honest, I would like to fight again sometime in the future; maybe not at the same level, but something for a personal challenge.

Melissa Ray in MuaySiam magazine, Thailand
Sometimes it's only when stopping that we have time to look back, how do you feel MuayThai has changed you? (deep question!)

I think it’s taught me that you can do anything you put your mind to. When I was at school I was not athletic in the slightest and very shy, so would never have dreamt that I would be able to enter a ring and fight, let alone compete in front of crowds of people and on TV.
Practising the sport has definitely given me much more self-confidence.

If you have any questions for Melissa about MuayThai training or dealing with retirement, leave a comment!  

UPDATE June 2015: Melissa Ray now has her own blog if you'd like to contact her directly: MuayThai on the Brain 

No comments