Their family business: Kicking your butt
Some families spend their evenings watching TV. The Maoyedi clan is a bit more active.
“Give me a right hand, left elbow. Go!” Mehrdad Maoyedi instructs his 14-year-old daughter, Shahnaz.
The girl, who has already been at it for more than an hour, dismisses her fatigue and squares off against the punching bag.
“Harder! Come on, go!”
“Keep going! I’ll tell you when to stop!”
Mehrdad motions to his daughter Soudabah, who has been looking on after finishing her own training session, to bring Shahnaz some water. At Master Mehrdad’s Martial Arts and Fitness in Clearwater, the art of stand-up striking known as Muay Thai is a family affair.
The Iranian-born Mehrdad is an eighth-degree black belt, certified martial arts master and inventor of the martial art shin do kumate. His wife, Yolanda Maoyedi, works on the business side at the Feather Sound facility and occasionally pops out of her office to watch their girls train. Shahnaz, a 130-pound middle weight, and Soudabah, a 110-pound super light weight, sometimes work out together but don’t face off publicly.
“They spar every Friday in that ring,” says their mom, Yolanda Maoyedi, balancing their 4-year-old sister, Leila — already a yellow belt — on her hip. “But after they spar, they always hug.”
Although Soudabah and Shahnaz descend from Muay Thai royalty, they say do train for the love of the sport, not out of obligation. Muay Thai teaches them discipline. They’ve made friends at the gym. And none of their Northeast High School classmates would dare mess with them.
Shahnaz and Soudabah began fighting amateur matches about six years ago. Shahnaz’s record is 12-0, with two technical knockouts. Soudabah is 10-2, with one draw. The sisters have racked up title belts, trophies and spreads in their school newspapers. They’ll both fight Saturday at their dad’s semi-annual Muay Thai Classic in Tampa, and in November Shahnaz will head to Bournemouth, England, for a title match.
Fighting may be in their blood, but they still have to work at it. And Mehrdad is there to push them extra-hard.
“At home he’s our dad,” Soudabah said. That’s the guy who relaxes with his family at the beach, the park and The Pier. “Here, he’s our trainer.”
When the sisters are preparing for a match, they train every weekday for at least 90 minutes. Saturdays, they do sprints around Crescent Lake. And instead of the usual greasy teenage fare, the girls fuel up on protein shakes and an all-organic diet.
Mehrdad said his daughters have a lot to learn, but they’re on their way to following in his footsteps.
“They’re going to be nightmares, because I put all of my energy and knowledge in them,” he said.
Shahnaz wants to become a professional fighter. Soudabah isn’t sure about turning pro but plans to stick with Muay Thai for awhile. But both girls have other long-term aspirations. Soudabah wants to be an author; Shahnaz, a guardian ad litem.
No matter how wrapped up in charity or martial arts Mehrdad’s family may get, one thing remains the same.
“We still call him Dad when we’re here,” Shahnaz said. “It’s kind of hard to say like the other kids, ‘Master Mehrdad.’ I tried once, and it didn’t even come out of my mouth.”
Master Mehrdad’s Muay Thai Classic XXI
The amateur mixed martial arts competition is Saturday at 6 p.m. at the USF Campus Recreation Center, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. Tickets are $10-$25 at mastermehrdad.com/buytix or $15-$30 at the door. For info, call (727) 573-8589.