Yolanda Schmidt is a professional Muay Thai fighter from South Africa, she now lives in Australia where she fights out of PTJ Muay Thai Gym. Out of her 18 fights she has only been defeated twice, once as an amateur and once as a pro. Her fights are always exciting to watch, and she’s very active on social media where you will catch her, so we urge you to go like her various pages (listed at the bottom of the article).
Awakening: Hi Yolanda, thanks for joining us!
Yolanda: Hi, thank you so much for catching up with me and for the constant support and exposure you provide to female fighters.
Awakening: You’re welcome! Congratulations on winning the 2015 ‘Newcomer of the Year’ in the Awakening Female Muay Thai Awards! How does it feel to be recognized by the fight community in this way?
Yolanda: Thank you! I was blown away, last year I was nominated for an award with the awakening female fighter awards, however received minimal votes. So when I received the nomination I thought it would be a similar case. The fact that people know my name is an incredible feeling and gives me positive vibes about increasing my following across social networks, while building a good public profile.
Awakening: You were also voted the Female Fighter of the Year in the Australian Muay Thai Awards, and will be representing Australia in the 2016 IFMA Royal World Cup. What are your thoughts on receiving this award, and going on to represent the nation in another IFMA World Cup?
Yolanda: When I received the notification of being one of the nominees, I was beyond appreciative as I felt that my hard work and activity throughout the year had been recognised. Being people’s choice awards, I was prepared for NOT taking home the win. I did not think that my following was large enough to secure the win. However, in this case people who knew me as well as those who only knew of me had voted for me, based on merit. I actually cried when they called my name out as the winner. It is an honour to be named the Pro Female fighter of the year when I have only been fighting for a fraction of the time others have. I work extremely hard, I’m an all or nothing kind of girl.
Awakening: We know you have a gofundme campaign on at the moment, for those that don’t know do you want to tell us about this?
Yolanda: I have qualified to represent Australia at the IFMA royal world cup held in Sweden this year (2016). Last year it was in Thailand, which is easier to get by on less money, however, Sweden is a little more pricey. Although we are on the Australian team, this is self-funded and is a choice made by the individual to then continue the venture or forfeit your spot on the team. Who would turn down the opportunity to participate on the world stage, facing some of the best the world has to offer? I most certainly would not. This is where the “Go Fund me” campaign comes in, the site allows for cash donations to be made to contribute to the financial side of this journey. The site does take 5% of every donation, however it has the potential to adequately raise the funds required if it is continually shared across various platforms.
Awakening: We wish you the best of luck with that! You had a very busy and successful 2015, fighting 9 times for a record of 7-2. Do you have a favourite fight or highlight from 2015?
Yolanda: This year was an extremely memorable year. Each fight, has its own amazing memory. Firstly I took to Thailand for my first international bout, against a strong Thai girl. This in its own is a highlight. If I were forced to pick a favourite fight based on my performance and the quality of the bout, I would pick my fight on Real Hero against Rozi Komlos. I felt that I carried techniques through into the fight that I had been working on with my coaches in the lead up. This bout was also in a heavier weight class that I am not comfortable fighting at. In saying this, defeating Thailand’s Chommannee on the world stage was an incredibly rewarding feeling, particularly as there was a lot of hype around this when I drew Thailand first up. I would have been knocked out of the World cup if I had lost. There is also my WKN title win, this is my first belt, and it most definitely stands out as a favourite moment. Lastly, I defeated Natalie Edwards by KO with an elbow, before that fight I was known only for my right hand. It was great to display the use of other weapons to show that I am a little more well-rounded than some might have thought.
Awakening: Yes a very memorable year, and we love those clips you’ve been creating of your various techniques in fights. So, 2015 was your busiest year of fights to date. Do you hope to continue competing so frequently going into 2016 and beyond?
Yolanda: My aim is to be as busy as possible, I would like to fight where ever I can. Equivalent or more than I did last year, however it is getting harder to get matches. This year my first fight is only 9 April, by that time last year I was in preparation for my third fight of the year.
Awakening: Keep promoting yourself the way you have been and we’re sure you’ll get the calls. The upcoming fight on April 9th is versus the respected Sam Brown at Destiny 6 in Australia for the 55kg WBC Australian Championship title. What are your thoughts on this matchup and fighting for your second Australian title?
Yolanda: I think this fight is a brilliant match up and will keep fight fans entertained. When I started training, even before become a fighter, I knew who Sam Brown was. Looked up to her as one of Australia’s best. It is an absolute honour to share a ring with her. There is no doubt that this will be a very tough fight, but that’s the type of opponents we want isn’t it?
Awakening: Yes exactly! Are there any other matchups or fighters you’d like to face in future?
Yolanda: All or any that are available as I am not picky. I have been thinking about international opponents possible in UK and America who I have come across in my weight division.
Awakening: You have made an incredibly quick rise in the sport of Muay Thai in the few years you’ve been competing. What do you credit for your success?
Yolanda: There are multiple factors that can take credit for this, the first is my sheer determination to get where I am going. When I have my focus on something, I work as hard as needed to make it happen. There is no time like the present, if you want something you go for it and you do not make excuses only solutions. I work myself to the bone and I truly believe that hard work pays off. The PTJ crew itself and my coaches Andrew Parnham (and his family) and Singpayak are who have been sculpting me into the fighter I am. Andy is the most supportive and encouraging person and he pushes me to my limits. The countless hours my coaches put into my development are a massive contributing factor. My family and friends have also played a huge part by offering their unconditional support.
Awakening: …and what advice would you give to other women just starting out in their own Muay Thai training and fighting?
Yolanda: Firstly, if you are starting out for fitness, don’t completely rule out the idea of fighting. I did, and at first I thought I was nuts when I got the bee in my bonnet to jump into the ring, but look where I am now. Anyone who trains should remember you reap the rewards of hard work and you cannot expect a different result if you are continuously doing the same thing. Put in the hard work as there are no short cuts if you want to succeed, avoid stepping on others on your way to the top, ensure you have a support network around you and never let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve something! A little tip I learnt from my coach is to watch Thai style fights (or whatever style it is that you compete in) as observation is a powerful tool and can teach you so much more than you think. And lastly good sportsmanship goes a long way!
Awakening: Great answer! Thank you so much for joining us, we wish you continued success in 2016! To close out the interview, are there any shout outs or Thank-Yous you’d like to make?
Yolanda: Firstly, thank you to Awakening female fighters for the interview and the awesome job you do at promoting female athletes. I say it in every interview but words cannot express my gratitude for my coaches, without Andrew and Singpayak I just wouldn’t be the same. The bond you build is irreplaceable and I thank them for every minute of unconditional support and sharing many moments that involve blood, sweat and tears. Thank you to Art Parnham, my fellow team mates (fighters and non-fighters), my family, friends and fight followers for believing in me, supporting and assisting in growing my public profile. Big thank you to Parviz, the editor of Fightmag who has been an enormous help over the last 10 months of my career and the join my stand against abuse of women and children. Lastly thank you to my sponsors; Rocktape Australia, Fighter Alias and Thai Fighter for backing me. Rocktape assists to ensure I can continue my training uninterrupted, I am accident prone so they have been a life saver. Fighter Alias is a fighter apparel line from Las Vegas and they allow my creative juices to flow freely with their awesome apparel and Thai fighter is new to Team Springbok, as they join our 2016 venture.