Machine K1 kicks off in just over 3 weeks and what a card Ian Freeman and his team have in store for us.
I caught up with one of the many array of talented warriors on the night Shannon Hands (17-1), who is set to take on Topaz Clarke (9-1) in a 56kg C-Class Thai rules bout on October 15th.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today Shannon, and also to congratulate you on your upcoming inclusion to the Machine MMA card on October 15th.
“Thank you, I feel like it’s about time. My last fight was on June 10th, I was supposed to compete last weekend but we had like three opponents pull out, so I’ve had an absolute nightmare getting matched haha.”
I can only imagine how that feels, especially after all the effort being put in during the build-up.
“It was one of the things for me, I’ve been fighting for a few years now and you get used to people pulling out. When I was younger I used to think ah, I’m wasting my time. But when I look at it now, when my opponent pulls out it’s not great but I’ve come on leaps and bounds since my last fight. You gotta keep motivated in that sense.”
Definitely, I can relate to that.
How has training been going in the build-up to your scheduled return to action?
“Absolutely brilliant to be fair, I was actually training initially through most of last year at Dragons Gym Carlisle with Christian Percival, then made the choice to come back home. My coach is now Fred at Strikers Academy, we’ve been friends since I was 14 years old, it’s pretty much my home from home. It’s nice to have Fred in the corner, training-wise, he’s done nothing but push me beyond even what I thought I could do. Even after this amount of time, he’s still finding more energy in me, which is good when I’m on a weight cut hahaha.”
Training with a long term friend as a coach must be an incredible boost.
“Oh it’s brilliant, when I take a fight, one of the most important things for me is having that trust in my corner. Me and Fred have got an incredible bond, the level of talent in the gym is immense. Strikers has only been an established gym since maybe last August, so we’ve all had that time to bond and grow the gym together. The boys I’m training with are absolutely amazing, Fred is great at pushing them all.”
Your vast experience in the highly respected art of Muay-Thai will no doubt have fans eager to catch you in action. Competing in 18 Muay-Thai bouts is a great reflection on your dedication at such a young age.
for the readers and the fans that will be in attendance, could you give us a little insight into what made you take the warriors path?
“For me, the 18 bouts have been N Class to C Class, those are my adult records if you will. I’ve actually been competing in Thai-Boxing since I was 11 years old, competing as a junior. When I was younger I was shy in the way of getting into sports, then we looked at the boxing and Thai-Boxing side of sport. Initially for me I was like, I can do this by myself, but then you come to realise it’s not just me you have your full team behind you, that made me into a more outgoing person. From day one when I walked into the gym I kinda knew that this is what I wanted to do, it’s been a rollercoaster.”
“My main excuse was I couldn’t dance hahaha, I couldn’t dance so I might as well fight. A lot of my friends growing up were boys, so it almost became second nature. A lot of my family were boxers, I decided test boxing wasn’t all I wanted so I started Thai-Boxing instead. A lot of it was for the thrill of fighting more than anything else, it’s something I really enjoy, I don’t think there’s anything that makes me feel more alive than that ring walk. It’s the best experience I’ll ever have, it doesn’t get boring, which is good for me.”
It’s really a part of training that not many realise, as you so rightly said there’s a lot other aspects to it. They build you up in so many ways other than teaching you how to fight.
“One hundred percent, it gives you that discipline. If this is what you want you’ve got to put the work in. From weight cutting to your lifestyle, everything changes. At 13 I was weight cutting on my birthday, I remember my mum and dad having such an attitude about it I was like, yeah but this is what I want hahaha. I learnt very quickly that this is what I wanted to be, there’s so many fighters I looked up to. There’s so many different stages to it, from a young age I’ve known that this is what I wanted.”
There are definitely so many to look up to in the sport. One of my personal favourites at the moment Is Daniel Bonner, who recently captured the WBC Muay-Thai International Championship back in June.
“It’s one of those sports that is so translatable, I only really started boxing training when I started back at the gym with Fred last year. The Thai-Boxing side of it is so translatable, the way your opponent moves in you can use your long guard while moving around. When I’m translating from boxing to Thai-Boxing it’s the same thing because the movements are so different. I can put different bits and bobs into my game, which is really helping me come along as a fighter.”
Self defence holds many benefits, self discipline and the ways and means to defend yourself against the many situations living in this day and age can bring. The list of forms is vast, what advice would you give to young practitioners looking to venture into their own self defence journey’s as well as the benefits of training Muay-Thai?
“Unfortunately there is a lot going on in the world, I think for the younger generation, self defence is such a good thing for them to have. Self defence, in a way, can help them stop getting into bad situations, It’s such a good thing for your mentality. Some parents don’t want their kids to learn how to fight, but then in the same breath if they learn how to fight it’s not just that they learn to fight it’s learning that mental discipline. There’ve been so many boys that have come to the gym, it’s been amazing in regards to keeping them out of trouble. Like when the Knives Down Gloves Up campaign, that was really good, it kept a lot of kids out of trouble. I think it helps develop respect as well as generally learning how to protect themselves.”
I completely agree, it really has more good than bad qualities in the development of reaching your full potential in life.
As previously stated, you have gone out and showcased your prolific arsenal across 18 bouts, all of which must hold many fond memories for you. Has there been a time out there that will forever hold a special place for you?
“There’s so many, I’ve really had some mental experiences. There was this funny one, all practitioners know what we’re like when we hit pads. We all have really funny pad sounds, I sound like Serena Williams when I hit pads hahaha. I fought this girl when I was a junior, she was throwing knees at me and she was making the weirdest sound I’d ever heard. I started laughing and I got 8 counted hahaha, the ref said to me Shannon, you’re not actively fighting, I have to give you an 8 count hahaha. I got a couple of titles when I was younger. Those fights were sentimental, they meant a lot. Probably one of the fondest memories I have was when I was 18, I fought on Stu Holden’s show Unit 5. That was my first C Class title opportunity and I won. I was training with Head coach Craig Jose at Northern Kings at the time, It was my first proper fight out of there I was so happy. As I’ve said, winning means a lot and teamwork means a lot, but my fondest memories from the ring are walkouts. From walking out of the changing room to doing that ring walk is probably the best experience I’ve ever had, I know it’s all about the fighting but there’s nothing quite like that for me.”
Definitely, when speaking to fighters in the past they’ve expressed their love for the walk. You go into a completely different dimension making your way to the bout, I can only imagine how that feels.
“For example, in May I fought Taif Cooper, lost on a split decision so Taif if you’re reading this I still want a rematch hahahaha. I walked out before her and just danced into the ring, I remember speaking to her at the last Victory show she was like, I’ve never seen anything like, you were so happy to be there I didn’t know what to think hahahaha. I danced my little self in there, I think I confused her a bit hahaha.”
That must have been an amazing experience.
Looking forward, October 15th fast approaching, another memory will be made to your outstanding career when you face off against Allegiance Muay-Thai’s Topaz Clarke. What do you make of Topaz in the build-up to your scheduled meeting?
“The Head coach of Allegiance Jim Burn was actually my first coach when I first started doing Thai-Boxing, it’s a surreal fight for me. I used to train with Topaz when I was younger, I’ve got a lot of respect for Topaz. I think it will be a really good challenge for me, it’s no secret that Topaz is 6ft and I’m 5ft 4 hahahaha. When I was speaking to Fred when he got the message about the fight and I said, I want that fight. As soon as I took a lot of people were like, oh don’t you think she’s quite big, but have a lot of confidence in my tools. I know what I’m doing, I’ve fought a range of different opponents, tall or short it doesn’t make a difference, it’s all a scoring game.”
“I feel really confident for it. My camps going great, weight cuts going great, I feel really good.”
As the saying goes, a fights not fought on paper.
“Exactly, I’ve never had an Easy fight against any of the opponents I’ve fought. Going on paper, they should have wooped me, I shouldn’t have a win on my record if you were going off the paper hahaha.”
Fight fans have a night to remember in store when Machine MMA looks to take the roof off of The Fed on October 15th in Gateshead. Other than your inclusion on the night are there any matchups in particular that you’re looking forward to witnessing?
“That’s a good question, there’s some really good fights on there. I think the one I’m looking forward to is Liam Anderson’s fight. Liam comes in and does a lot with us, he’s been a big influence in my camp as well. The matchmaking that Kennedy has been doijg is brilliant, even some of the juniors, I wouldn’t want to fight half of these juniors hahaha. I think my retirement will come when half of these kids turn 18 hahaha.”
It’s an incredible card I agree, definitely looking forward to this one.
“It’s a special moment for me and Topaz, because we’re one of the first Thai fights to on one of their cards. And also the first women, go me and Topaz hahah.”
It’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today Shannon and I look forward to witnessing you out there.
“Oh it’s been awesome speaking to you man, thank you very much.”
My pleasure Shannon.
Last but not least do you have a message for the fans that will be in attendance and anybody you’d like to give a shout-out to?
“For the people going, people watching and the people supporting us in general, we all know that you guys are the extra bit of fuel on the night so thank you. Thank you to all my teammates over the past year at Dragons Carlisle, they’ve done wonders for me before I moved back home to Newcastle. Thank you to Newcastle Fightsters for the sparring, everyone that has been supporting my camp, it’s been absolutely amazing. And of course Fred for getting me the fight hahaha.”
Catch Shannon and a vast array of talent on Saturday the 15th of October for a night of pure unadulterated organised violence you’ll not want to miss at the Fed Dunston in Gateshead.
Tickets are available on Machine’s website here, also being streamed via PPV through the website.