Interview by Lakhvinder S. Madahar
Sheree Halliday – a British, European and World Muay Thai Champion and you’d be forgiven if you have never heard of her. I believe out of choice, she has never had the champion’s media coverage, Sheree just gets on with business by winning the titles that comes her way!
I’ve known Sheree for about five years; since she assisted a seminar with Tony Myers at our Total Martial Arts Academy in Coventry. Since then she has been a welcome visitor at our academy, then last year after a training session with Pindi Madahar I asked her for an interview, although she agreed but nothing happened. Until she was offered a shot at the I.S.K.A. World title earlier this year, perhaps she is a bit too modest, whatever the reason I’m glad in the end it happened and since then she has won the title fight and is now the new I.S.K.A. World Champion!
Lucky Madahar: Hi Sheree, congratulation on becoming the new World champion, can you tell the readers of Martial arts Illustrated which title bet have you won and what it means to you and why?
Sheree Halliday: I have won the I.S.K.A 60kg world title. The fight meant everything to me! I've been involved in Muay Thai for nearly 12 years now. I have fought around the world and have fought some top opponents I feel it's my turn to show I deserve to fight and win this world title, to show I am up there with the best girls in the UK.
Lucky Madahar: You have previously won several title belts and have fought internationally. Can you tell the readers of MAI what other titles you have won, when & where did the fights take place?
Sheree Halliday: In 2006 I won the bronze medal in the I.F.M.A Championships in Bangkok, over 80 countries competed, it was a great experience to be a part of it.
The first title I won was the ‘The I.S.K.A English title’ beating Zoe Mason from Touchgloves in Cornwall.
After this fight I went off to Bangkok to train at W.P.T gym to train with Mr ChokeChai Channa Krutsuwan (Full interview in MAI Oct 2001), having won this title I wanted to proceed further. I returned in March 2008 and went onto win the ‘W.P.K.L British title’ beating Bonny Oortmerson from Snipers gym in London.
I also hold the I.K.F European title beating Mariella Kruse from Holland.
My latest victory was winning the I.S.K.A World title beating Elsa Hemet from France with a round 3 TKO via knees.
For three of these title fights I was lucky enough to fight in my home town of Woking, Surrey, UK. The venue was "The HG Wells Suite" In August 2007 I won the I.S.K.A English title.
I went on to win the W.P.K.L British title on the 18th May 2008 and then the same year on the 7th December 2008 I won the I.K.F European title.
The new belt to add to my collection is the I.S.K.A world title; the show took place at Scala Nightclub in London on the 10th March 2013.
Lucky Madahar: Can you tell us a little more about you’re your fights abroad?
I've been lucky enough to have had the chance to travel a little and fight abroad, which is always great. I've fought in Holland twice. The last time I fought there I had weight to still cut when I arrived so I had to visit the sauna. It wasn't a typical type of sauna we have here in the UK. I was a little concerned when I walked into the changing room and realised it was a communal one. To my surprise it was a nudist sauna, the robe stayed on, I had weight to loose!! Randomly I was introduced to her dad at the sauna, he visited every Friday! I fought a tough opponent called Maria; she was like the local celebrity. The children all had similar hair cuts and everyone had T- shirts with her on them, she had a great crowd behind her but I was welcomed.
In Sweden I remember it being extremely cold. When I fought the crowd didn't welcome me very much I got a big boo!! It just made me smile!
When I fought in Los Angeles I was lucky to have stayed with amazing people. P'Pooh was a legend, great hospitality I was very well looked after. I fought a girl called Roxy Balboa. I remember after the 2nd round of the fight saying to my corner man "I think my eye is swelling" they were ironing it and saying "no its fine!" After the fight I went to get changed in the toilets, came out to wash my hands, looked up and looking back at me, was not the girl that I recognised! Bruises heal though right?!
I have so many crazy memories of fighting in Thailand. I've fought in random places, like in the middle of a field! At a festival on TV I remember my 2nd fight in Bangkok I won the fight and at the end I was given my prize money and a big cardboard box. I was so excited I waited till I got back to the gym to open it. To my surprise it was a box of instant noodles!! Not what I was expecting.
Lucky Madahar: When did you have your first Muay Thai fight?
Sheree Halliday: My first fight was on a show in Guildford at a leisure centre called The Spectrum in 2002. I remember being really nervous. I got to the venue and as it was a C class fight I had to weigh in on the day. I ended up weighing in too light and my opponent didn't show. There was another girl from my gym who ended up weighing slightly over the weight she was meant to be so I was asked to fight her opponent; it was very daunting as this girl had quite a lot of experience. I agreed and did loose but was still a great first fight.
Lucky Madahar: Was the first fight experience harder to deal with, then your later fights?
Sheree Halliday: It was hard as I wasn't really too sure how it would feel to fight in front of a crowd, against someone you don't know anything about so yes I was nervous but I don't think my
first fight experience was harder than other fights. The more fights you have, the more pressure you feel, the better your opponents become and the hunger to want to perform grows. Nerves I think
will always be there for as long as I fight. Nerves are good you just have to know how to work with them and how to deal with them otherwise they can get the better of you.
Lucky Madahar: How many fights have you had?
Sheree Halliday: I’ve had a total of 28 fights, with 19 wins, 8 losses and 1 draw. Five of the wins by Knock Outs; 2 by technical knock out and in addition to the above I had four amateur fights
resulted in three wins and one loss!
Lucky Madahar: which fight were the toughest and the most memorable for you?
Sheree Halliday: My toughest fight I would say was when I fought in LA against Roxy Balboa. Before you fight you undergo a day of medical tests which was quite draining in itself I fought A class and the fight was 5 rounds, 3 minutes a round with 1 minute rest. The fight was non stop from the start of the bell. A five rounds of war. Roxy was very fit and kept coming forward constantly. I had to be clever and move instead of stand in her way as she had a good straight right hand on her.
Lucky Madahar: Losing a fight is never a great experience and it is said you learn more from a loss then a win, do you agree with this?
Sheree Halliday: Yes I have lost and it’s not nice, I've lost 8 times. Every time; just as heart breaking as the time before. It's hard loosing a fight, you feel like you've let everyone down,
your instructors, your family and friends, everyone who supports you but when the wounds heal, you can look back and see where you went wrong, what you need to work on and be more positive about it.
I wouldn't say you learn more, but I guess that is up to the individual fighter. I learn both from wins and losses learn what my strengths are and what my weaknesses are and work at it to succeed in
the next fight.
Lucky Madahar: Who are your instructors/trainers?
Sheree Halliday: I am very lucky to have three great trainers behind me. I train at 3 different gyms
Alan Keddle at Keddles Gym, Orpington, Kent, Phillip Tieu at Team Tieu Gym, London and Omar Beluch at Fit To Fight, Weybridge, Surrey.
Lucky Madahar: Why did you choose to train at other gyms?
Sheree Halliday: The main reason was as I was re-locating. I chose the best gyms available within a commutable distance to help me gain my full potential.
Lucky Madahar: When did you begin training in Muay Thai and what got you into the martial arts?
Sheree Halliday: I began training in Muay Thai just before my 19th birthday. It has now been a part of my life for 11 years!! I was always a fit and active youth, a member of all school sports teams and also competed for Woking Athletics Club. My younger brother had been participating in a Karate class at the local leisure centre where I live. Whilst waiting for him one day I was browsing the marital arts timetable and noticed "Thai Boxing" I had no idea what it was. I stood watching through a door for a few weeks, before encouraging a friend to come and try it! I loved it and she hated it! I never thought I'd be any good at it but stuck at it and amazed I am still doing it 11 years later!
Lucky Madahar: Have you trained in any other martial arts?
Sheree Halliday: No only Muay Thai found it, loved it and never tried anything else.
Lucky Madahar: I know you trained in Thailand extensively with Master Chokechaichana Krutsuwan (Pimu), how has this training helped you? Did you train in any other camps while you were in Thailand?
Sheree Halliday: I trained in Chaing Mai for some time before going to Bangkok. At that time the gym I trained at was called Siam no1 it was the gym Nong Toom trained at and fought for. I trained with a lovely man called Kru Doh.
When arriving in Bangkok Pimu took me under his wing and we developed a father / daughter relationship Pimu is a wonderful trainer and an inspirational man. I learnt so much from him. When I first arrived there it was very daunting, I was the only foreigner and the only female. When I began training it was like starting a whole new marital art, I began right from the start all over again. Pimu had me literally walking back and fourth in stance for the first few days. I learnt so much by training at W.P.T Gym, I learnt technique, timing, foot work and most importantly to have a big heart.
Lucky Madahar: What do you do for a living?
Sheree Halliday: At present I am Nanning for twin boys quite a contrast! The family are great and very flexible when it comes to fights and training.
Lucky Madahar: You’re also a model, fighting and modelling doesn’t really mix, how have you juggled the two?
Sheree Halliday: I haven't modelled for a while. The last time I did I rocked up with a black eye!! It took quite a bit of makeup to get it covered! So I wasn't in the good books!
Lucky Madahar: Have you ever had to use your Muay Thai skills out side of the ring?
Sheree Halliday: Luckily I have never had to. A friend of mine also a female fighter I know has had to, I think it gave the guy quite a shock when he took a right hand off of her, still not a nice situation to be in!
Lucky Madahar: Do you have any favourite fighters in Thailand?
Sheree Halliday: There a lot of fighters I admire watching in Thailand. Some of the young lads I train with at W.P.T are amazing to watch and great watching them develop over the years. But I'm sure like a lot of others my favourite has to be Saenchai. Saenchai is amazing to watch, such grace about him as he enters the ring. I remember the 1st time I saw him fight in Lumpinee I was mesmerised. It was like being at a ballet so beautiful to watch. Everything from the sound of the kicks landing, the precision of everything thrown and the atmosphere was electric. I love his little stunts he does like his famous cart wheel kick and the foot shuffle. My most favourite thing that I see in Thailand when I watch fights is the respect they have for one another. If one of the things I love most about the sport.
Lucky Madahar: Who would you say are the current ‘cream of the crop’ in Muay Thai fighters (male & female) in the UK?
Sheree Halliday: Female - Iman Barlow / Ruth Ashdown / Amanda Kelly
Male - Dean James / Jordan Watson / Andy Howson
Lucky Madahar: What specialties do the above fighters have?
Sheree Halliday: Amanda Kelly has great Thai style and technique; she's strong and likes to walk forward, great in the clinch. Amanda reminds me of another favourite fighter of mine who I had pleasure of sharing the ring with Sarah McCarthy from Bad Company, Leeds.
Ruth Ashdown I would say is up there with the best. I have watched Ruth get better by the year; I have trained with her and also accompanied her to Australia where she won her I.S.K.A World title. Ruth is strong, great with her hands, likes to walk forward and attack.
Iman Barlow in my opinion is an all round talented fighter, such a young talent and already a superstar. I've watched a few of her fights and love her style. Beautiful style, great technique Iman is able to walk her opponent down and use great timing to land kicks, punches and knees.
Dean James is amazing to watch he shows great precision with everything he lands. Kicks always well timed and knees are lethal! I don't miss getting hit by Dean in training!
Andy Howson likes to war great to watch! Great hands, tough fighter with a walk forward style.
Jordan Watson always exciting to watch, Jordan is a very clever and talented fighter. Great technique, he's fought some top opponents.
Lucky Madahar: Thank you Sheree for a very informative interview, I wish you all the success in life and your fight career.
Sheree Halliday: You’re welcome!
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