Full Name: Caley Reece
Date of Birth: 23/11/79
Fight record: 54 fights 49 wins 5 losses
Gym: Riddlers Gym
World Muaythai Council, Amateur West Australian Champion, 57kg, 2006
World Muaythai Council, Amateur Australian Champion, 57kg
World Muaythai Council, Intercontinental Champion, 57kg, 2009
Silver Medal Sport Accord Games Beijing, 60k, 2010
World Muaythai Council, Intercontinental Champion, 57kg, 2010 (defence)
World Muaythai Council, 57kg, 2011
World Muaythai Council, 59kg, 2012
World Muaythai Council, 57kg, 2012 (defence)
Lion Fight World Title, 57kg, 2014
What were your reasons that you chose to train in Muaythai?
I chose Muaythai initially to lose weight and tone up. I loved it from the first time I tried it and new it was a sport that would challenge me, not only physically, but mentally. I’m easily bored and Muaythai is something that keeps you on your toes!! I like the spiritual elements and that there is so much respect on all levels.
What age did you start Muaythai?
I started training at 19 but my first fight I was about 26. This is older than average, which is a slight regret but I can’t change that now! But it also shows that you can participate at the highest level at an advanced age.
What were/are the biggest challenges you faced in becoming successful?
Success has its pros and it has its cons. Obviously with success comes envy from people and that is natural and something that people have to accept. Regardless of how well you are doing, some people always try and shoot you down or find the negatives to your positives. Its important for athletes in any sport to realize that this is human nature and it will never change no matter how well you do, who you fight, who you beat and how hard you train to get where you are. For every negative comment I have had, there are hundreds of positive ones so at the end of the day, I remember and acknowledge the people that are supporting me rather than focusing on the ones that aren’t. I also believe that with success also comes responsibility to inspire the next generation to be a role model and only in the dictionary does success come before hard work. I earned my title through hard work and sweat and if you want to achieve something in life then sacrifices come with it.
What fascinates you the most about Muaythai?
The ability to still keep learning after nearly 15 years of training in it. Some days, I still feel like a beginner. I go and train in Thailand and clinch the Thais, I feel like a beginner. I may feel tired some days, and it makes me feel like a beginner. Even though I have done so much in the sport, I still feel like every single session, I’m learning something new and improving. It’s a never ending game and its a sport that quickly puts you back in your place. Further more, having participated in so many international events, I like the close family ties and that they are values and traditions in the sport that goes back for many hundreds of years.
How important is the cultural aspect of Muaythai?
I like to follow the traditions of Muaythai. For me, Muaythai is not just a sport. It is also a cultural art form. It goes back long before Thailand was named Thailand. And I think the effectiveness of the sport ensured the freedom of the country. I respect what the Thais have done in creating this great sport so abide by their cultural rules and traditions. Respect is highly regarded in this sport and the Thais show this in abundance, so I like to follow this pathway. At the end of the day, a sport is a sport. It is meant to be fun, so even though I train hard, follow the rules and traditions, I also like to enjoy myself while doing it.
What inspired you to become a Champion?
Nothing really stands out that inspires me other than the fact that I like to set goals, reach goals and challenge myself. Life can be boring and we can get caught up in living ordinary lives due to fears of getting out there and trying new things. I never imagined I would be a champion within the sport and even now, with what I have done, I forget about where I have come. I just took each fight, and still do, take each fight as they come and train as hard as I can for each one.
What are your plans after retiring from competing?
I am waiting to start a Diploma mid year that will help me rehabilitate athletes with injuries. I really want to help people. That’s what I love doing. I have had a lot of injuries in the past and worked through a lot so I really want to help athletes/ fighters get back into doing what they love as quick as they can. I would also like to get more involved with the female commission of IFMA, which I have currently just started helping in the Oceania Region with Sue Latta. I really want to help with the growth of female Muaythai.
What is your advice to the youths that are beginning Muaythai?
Muaythai is an amazing sport. You don’t have to be a fighter. You don’t have to compete in any way at all. Just your involvement in the sport will help you feel so much more confident as a person. If you decide to compete, my advice is to set goals. They keep you motivated, give you something to work towards, and you feel accomplished when you have reached them. Join the gyms, make friends, take the right path in life and don’t forget the most important ingredient is fun.
What is your favourite weapon in the ring?
Mmmmm probably my kicks or my clinching.
What do you think about IFMA social projects?
Social projects are always going to be beneficial in anything. They help raise awareness of the sport and include everyone so people feel as though they belong to something. Muaythai is a sport therefore a group of people doing the same thing with the same interests so the more social projects and awareness that occur, the more the sport is going to grow.
In your opinion, what would help the sport to progress?
In my opinion, I’m under the impression other countries have big tournaments regularly which helps the sport and the fighters get more experience. Australia has never had this, its a big country and expensive to travel from one side to the other but we as a country I think we are making progress. We need the tournaments. We need to send our best athletes to the games because we have the talent. We need government funding to help pay for this because its expensive. It would be even better if the world games were something that happened twice a year so the fighters were fighting the best more than just once a year. And obviously more positive media attention is going to only benefit the sport so the more we can promote it, the better.
What was your experience SportAccord Combat Games?
The sport Accord games were brilliant. So well organized. It was my first experience in a tournament with all of the padded gear on so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the fighters, what it was going to feel like or the set up of the whole thing. I had a very hard draw – Belarus first, Morocco second and Peru in the final but it was one of the most amazing experiences because I knew they were the best girls and I had done really well beings as it was my first time.
What are your thoughts as an athlete on the IFMA Sport Integrity and Fair Play programs?
I think its very important that all sports including IFMA Muaythai address and incorporate the use of these programs to ensure that every fighter, trainer, judge, referee and person involved in the sport is playing fair, knows the rules and has strict guidelines to ensure that everyone is treated and performs equally. Fair play is very important part of any sport regardless of doping, officiating or betting. And fair play is one of the pillars of muaythai
How do you prepare before a fight?
In order to reach the impossible you must go far beyond the possible. And I think any elite athlete would agree with me. I also have a very strict mental approach to fights too and with the help of my sports psychologist and my love for reading books on the mind, I know that when its time to fight, my training and my positive mental state will allow me to perform the best I can.
What is your most memorable moment?
Probably fighting in the Sport Accord Games and getting through to the final against Valentina. It was a tough week and I’m very proud of how I did considering these girls were all so experienced in the tournament style of fighting.
How would you describe your fight style?
I’m very Thai style. And I like to fight like this. I consider myself to be quite smart in the ring more so than an all in brawler. I pick my shots, calculate my moves and play the game.
Do you have a personal phrase that keeps you focused?
Believe. Without belief, we cannot achieve.
What are your likes and dislikes within Muaythai?
Likes – the list is long but what stands out for me are the constant challenges. Not just in the ring but outside the ring. I like the fact that Muaythai around the world is quite tight knit. Fighters know fighters. Trainers know trainers so even though the world is a huge place; it’s quite a cosy sport. My dislike is ego. I have no time for it. And in sport, any sport, it can be a big factor. At the end of the day, no one should think they are any better the person than the other.
How has Muaythai helped developed you as an individual?
Muaythai is now a part of me. And it always will be. Apart from the usual confidence booster, fitness, strength etc, it has really made me appreciate other things in life. As a pro fighter, we miss out on a lot of things and until they are taken away from us, we take them for granted. I really look at life differently now, I make the time to take things in and appreciate moments and people a lot more. I love watching people try new things, and I respect them for giving things a go and I believe that Muaythai has made me feel this way because I know how hard it is to start something new.
What other sports have helped you develop within Muaythai?
I have recently in the last 8 months been doing crossfit which has helped me so much with my power, strength and explosiveness. It also gets me out of the gym, doing something completely different with a whole heap of different people that I can learn from.
What is your opinion on Muaythai being an Olympic sport?
I have been proud to be one of the chosen fighters when Muaythai applied for IOC recognition. It was an amazing event and I was honoured to be part of the journey. I believe that the journey is as important as the destination. I can see and feel the changes for good that have been done, and also how everything is constantly evolving. Amateur Muaythai is safe. There is a difference between professional and amateur. Professional you fight once and then no fights for at least another month. As amateur is a knock out competition, you have to fight up to 5 times in one week. So you must strategise different. Also in amateur, the equipment prevents from injuries. Muaythai has a great spectator appeal and it would bring magic to the stadiums. But this will not happen during my fighting career, but none the less we all need to ensure that we have a great image and planting seed today so the next generation will harvest. And I plan to stay on in any capacity after my retirement.