Shelby Walker: Not just another pretty face
Interview by "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (January 21, 2005)  
Not just another pretty face in the crowd but a lady warrior in the ring proving herself to the masses that she is to be taken seriously. Fighting her heart out to accomplish what she has set out to do, and that is to fight, to entertain and to win. Lady boxer and mixed martial arts star Shelby 'Girl' Walker isn’t just your average beauty unless you count bashing the heads of her opponents into the canvas as your normal American girl. This Southern beauty doesn’t play and by no means is she to be taken lightly by anyone. Training in the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu discipline, Shelby was awarded her blue belt by MMA legend Royce Gracie and after watching the first few events of UFC she decided to try her hand in the art herself. Shelby began her career in 2001 and since then has competed in three Hook-n-Shoot’s, one USMMA and one AFC where she has compiled a 2-3 MMA record. Regardless of a win, loss or draw, Shelby comes to fight and the lady warrior inside won’t let her stop what she loves. Now the number one ranked featherweight, Shelby has taken on Howard Davis Jr. as her new trainer and is set for a return to the boxing ring on February 12th in Fort Lauderdale at the War Memorial Coliseum on the (AFC) Absolute Fighting Championship and hopes to have a successful comeback. Shelby has pounded out a 6-4-1 (5) record since climbing in the ring in 2002 and looks to continue as a boxer, honing her skills to become one of the best lady boxer’s in the business, and with her hard work and determination she will succeed. So stay tuned and get ready for Shelby 'Girl' Walker as she continues to face down her opponents and prove that she isn’t all about looks and if the critics disagree, then let them step into her world and see what it is all about. Shelby took the time out of her training to talk about her career and affiliation with American Top Team and new trainer Howard Davis Jr.

Benny Henderson Jr.: Hey Shelby, first off what would possess a lady as yourself to want to get into the fight game?

Shelby Walker:
I have always been a fighter and the fact that I found a way to possibly capitalize on it and be able to do something that I love really means a lot to me. So I don’t know what would posses me to get in into the fight game, I guess the same thing that would posses a baseball player to want to be a professional baseball player; just the love of the game.

BH: Give us a little background on yourself on how you came about competing in boxing and the mixed martial arts?

Well I watched the first few UFC events and I started off training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and one thing lead to another and I decided I wanted to compete and after I trained for a about four or five months I started training in kickboxing and I had my first MMA fight only after five months of training and everything just lead from there.

BH: Do you feel you are taking seriously in the fight world as a female fighter and what are the challenges you face as a female in a predominantly male sport?

Well it’s hard to be taken seriously sometimes especially a lot of the men in the sport still see it as a man's sport. But women’s boxing and MMA is definitely evolving. There are big rumors that girls may even fight in the UFC so women’s fighting is coming to a whole new light.

BH: Well what are your thoughts on the critics saying that you are just another pretty face in the business and not serious about your fighting career?

Well I think that is kind of what my family thought when I decided to sign up for the US Army too. I guess they are going to have to sit back and watch and the critics who think I can’t fight need to watch one of my fights.

BH: In your last MMA bout Adrienna Jenkins at the Hook-n-Shoot Evolution submitted you in the first round. It was rumored that you were knocked out and suffered a concussion during a sparring session a week prior to your bout against Jenkins. If so why did you go ahead and take the bout knowing that could play in the fight and looking back how much did that affect the outcome and what would you have done differently?

Well American Top Team and my doctor both advised me strongly against taken the fight, because not only was I suffering from a concussion I was always suffering from palsy - my right side of my face was completely paralyzed. I just felt that I was under a lot of pressure. I wanted to fight for my team even though they were advising against it I still thought I could pull it off. I didn’t think it would play as much of a mind game with me as it did. And then when I got to the event I really didn’t think I would get passed the fight doctor but he didn’t even notice it, which is really hard to understand because my face was in really bad shape. When it came fight time I just panicked, I see it like that but I am all better now and in retrospect would I still have taken the fight knowing what I know now? No.

BH: What are your thoughts on training with the American Top Team and now with Howard Davis Jr., and how is that working out for you?

I consider my self very, very lucky, I’m the first lady of the American Top Team and I feel really blessed to be able to be a part of such a great team and to be able to work with an Olympic Gold medalist as Howard Davis Jr. It is a dream come true for me.

BH: It has been rumored that you may fight Erika Montoya at UFC 51, is there any truth to those rumors?

Yeah there is truth to those rumors, it has been talked about a lot and when I asked Dana White if he was going to put us on the show he said possibly, so that is where it stands right now. I haven’t heard anything more from this but my biggest dream would be to fight in the UFC.

BH: What are your thoughts on joining the UFC as a part in a women’s division, do you believe that will go well as seeing the women fighting in the octagon as the men do?

I definitely think that the waters need to be tested and I think the perfect place for that would be UFC Japan because women’s MMA in Japan is growing rapidly as women’s boxing in the United States. So I think we should test the waters and Erica Montoya and I should fight it out in Japan and see how it goes and take it from there.

BH: How important is it for you to be taking seriously by the fight world and not just being looked at as another pretty face in the crowd?

I work so hard; I dedicate all my time, energy, blood and bruises to my career. I really want people to know that and to understand that this means a lot to me, it means everything to me.

BH: What is your training regime?

I train probably a combined total of four hours a day. Running, sprints, jump rope, sparring, heavy bags, speed bags, it varies form day to day but usually about four a day, six days a week.

BH: Which would you prefer to compete in the most, boxing or Mixed Martial Arts?

That is a hard question. I am a bigger fan of the MMA, I live Mixed Martial Arts but unfortunately the life span of a MMA fighter isn’t that long so I think the best career decision for me long term would be boxing and I think there are a lot more opportunities for me in boxing. But that doesn’t change the fact that I still would like nothing more than to be in the first women’s bout in the UFC. I think it would go down in history and I would love to be a part of it.

BH: Who are some of the lady fighters in the business that you may look up to in the sport?

Well Christy Martin, she has definitely paved the way for women fighters, she has definitely been an inspiration to me. Laila Ali is definitely making big waves for women’s boxing. People are starting to take notice of women’s boxing now because of Laila Ali and I think it is great that she can carry on her father’s name like that. My favorite female boxer would probably be Layla McCarter, she is the most technical sharp female boxer I think I have ever seen.

BH: When do you plan on stepping back in to the boxing ring?

I am fighting February 12th on AFC in a boxing match and hopefully it will be a six rounder but I don’t know my opponent yet.

BH: You have gone 6-4-1 (5) in your professional boxing career so far and have lost your last two bouts. What are you working on to become more of a solid boxer than before and do you feel your return will be more successful with Howard Davis Jr. working with you?

My last two boxing matches were both title bouts and I really stepped up to the plate for both of them. I really stepped up and this was before I was training with Howard Davis Jr. so I think we are really going to shock the world at what a technical boxer that I am becoming, and Howard is a great trainer and a really good friend too and I can’t wait to box again under his tutelage.

BH: What is the one thing that you can tell us about yourself that nobody else knows about you?

I’m a nice girl.

BH: What are your hobbies out of the ring when you are not training?

I watch fight tapes, I play fight videos and I like to go to the beach, but all I really do for fun is train, it is fun for me. For fun I do jiu-jitsu, for fun I box, that is all fun for me, I have a total fighter lifestyle. My life revolves around American Top Team.

BH: What is your main goal in the fight world?

I definitely want to leave my mark I want to get out there and get some fights and get more ring time and hopefully fight on TV. I want the world to see that I am not going anywhere anytime soon and I work really hard and I plan on making things happen.

BH: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview or say in closing?

I want to thank for helping me so much and leading me in the right direction. I also want to thank American Top Team, Howard Davis Jr. and all who believe in me and making me the first lady of American Top Team and keep your eye out for me, I am sticking around. 
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