Tell us about your history, where you came from, what makes you tick?

I was originally born in Perth. Dad was in the mining industry so we moved around alot so I lived in a few different places in WA.  We then moved to Victoria, where I lived for a few years, before settling in QLD when i was about 9 years old.

Melina as a kid
Melina as a kid

Ever since i was a kid i’ve always been a bit of a tom boy, I had mainly male friends when i was younger so I was always mucking around and getting into play fights with them so naturally i found fighting fun!

I was always a sporty kid, i used to do really well in track and I also competed in the districts and state titles for cross country, as well as being on the school Touch Football team.

When i was 18 (and no longer had school sports to keep me active) I started looking for something else to do.  I tried going to general gyms but found i got quite bored…..they weren’t for me. 

I then moved to the Gold Coast, where I found a personal trainer who focused on boxing and was right next to my work.  I did boxing for a short while and really loved it. But then after being a typical 18/19 year old I had a bit of a break to live the party life!

When i decided to get back into focusing back on my fitness, I was in my early 20’s,  I tried a couple of different styles of boxing fitness classes (boxfit etc) at general gyms, but found I wasn’t really learning much and it didn’t teach me anything technical, so I thought i’d see what other martial arts were out there. 

I tried – Ninjutsu and Capoeira but I didn’t have the patience to learn slowly, I just wanted to get right in there…and as my very first trainer always remembers me saying, “I just want to start hitting $#1t!”.

I came across a Muay Thai gym in 2004 and the instant I took my first class I though “yep this is for me!”  I loved that I got to jump straight in there and hit pads and do bag work and was getting taught proper technique straight up. I was hooked after my very first session! 

You are a fighter and business owner, how did you find your way onto this path?

I spent 14 years working in IT, fixing / building computers, servers & networks.  In 2009 i had my first fight and loved it.   I really wanted to fight more but with the amount of hours my job demaned from me, I kept missing out on getting to training on time.

A lot of the time i was working 12 hour days – I started to get really unhappy and every day I started to dread going to work, when prior to this, I absolutely loved my job!

One day, after a series of rough patches in my life (both personally and work related), I woke up and thought you know what…I want to be happy….and training makes me happy. 

I was earning good money at my job but this meant nothing to me as I’m the type of person who would rather happiness over money. I just wanted to look forward to my day, instead of waking up and hating on life!

Right then and there, I just made the decision to quit – I had no back up plan, no idea what I was going to do – all I thought about was the fact I wanted to train and fight.

I got a part time job, which was supposed to just be a simple reception type role, but quickly started turning into an IT role (once they found out my backgroudn) so when I kept getting asked to do things that were not within the scope of what I was hired to do, which I was beginning to get annoyed at.

My Trainer Richard Walsh & Me after my WMC QLD Title Win
My Trainer Richard Walsh & Me after my WMC QLD Title Win

At around this same time I was training and looking for my 2nd fight. After quite a few last minute pull outs and not being able to find matches, I could see the opportunity to help the industry with my IT background mixed with the awesome network i’d started to develop within the Muay Thai community.

I got told about a government program that took you through a business management course, with paid assistance – this is what allowed me to start NRF back in 2012 and where I also first came up with the my business plan to get my FightSys Gym Management System underway.

It was also at about this time when my friend Melissa, who owns Urban Fight Gym, asked if I wanted to help them out on reception…so I quit my part-time “reception” job and jumped at the opportunity to work at Urban Muaythai.

I was stoked because:

A) I got to work for my 2 good life long friends Richie & Melissa Walsh

B) I got to be surrounded by Muay Thai EVERY DAY!


C) I had no excuse for not turning up to training because I had to be there for work!  It was perfect!

Tell us about your businesses, what sort of time do you invest in them each week?

NRF (Australia) Is an online database and community of fighters, gyms and promoters.  We help to match fighters around Australia for shows both locally and interstate, as well as giving fighters gyms and promoters exposure around the country.  Also we keep our members fight records up to date so that there are accurate records available to our community and provide tools and resources for our members to get ahead as athletes.

FLIGHTSYS LOGO.png 72FIGHTSYS Is an online Gym Management System tailored for Australian Fight Gyms.  It allows gyms to do direct debits for their members, keep track of their students attendance, fight records and also track sales within the gym.  It has a membership card scanner which we provide the gym with membership key tags with their logo on them for their students to swipe in when they arrive at the gym, which will automatically “check them in” to class.  This is great to allow gym owners or their admin staff to easily see who’s in class and what the students current membership status is.

Obviously that is a massive work load, what are the biggest challenges you face each week and how do you manage them all?

I probably work on my businesses about 15 hours every day.  Somewhere around 100 hours a week maybe?

I split my day up in to 3 parts one for each business and then the 3rd is for work I do for Muaythai Australia and Urban.   

I also unfortunately have had to sacrifice my personal life to fit it all in especially around fight time as my training intensifies because during fight camp I train 2-3 times a day

Tell us about your fighting, elaborate on how you began and the transition from training for fun into fighting. How important is Muay Thai in your life? 

My 1st fight with Jason Hawker & Clayton Collyer
My 1st fight with Jason Hawker & Clayton Collyer

At the time of my first fight, I was training at Masa in Miami under Jason Hawker.   A fight came up at my weight and he put it to me to see if I wanted to just “jump in and have a go”.  I thought, why not!… I wanted to put what I had learned in the past 4 years of training, into practice to see where I was at.  “I’ll just have 1 fight” I had thought…nothing more…

The adrenalin high was SO amazing  after my fight. It made me want to have another one! I was so elated that I actually got in there and had a go,  I won the fight and was really excited by the massive challenge.  So I then set myself a goal that i’d have 3 fights and that would be all….well we can all see how that turned out!
Photo by W.L Fight Photography

For me Muay Thai is the most important thing in my life….it is my life. I have built my work and life around Muay Thai so that I can live it every day!

Any words of wisdom?

Find your passion or your “why”. …be it for work or life and follow it! 

Make sure that you look forward to waking up each day because you love what you do and that you’re working towards your “why” each and every day. I find this helps me in all aspects of my life, in my training, my work and my personal life.   I am still refining my own “why” but i think about it all the time, especially on those tough days and it helps get me through.