Memory Training - By Tansel Ali

Tansel Ali

Australian Memory Champion x 3 | TedX Docklands | Celebrity Memory Coach


My journey started when I was rushed into hospital. I was in extreme pain. I had an abnormal growth from my stomach and had to be operated on. I was advised by the surgeon if I hadn’t had the surgery I would have been dead. They cut out part of my intestines, added 31 staples down from chest down to my lower abdomen showing a nice scar, and for three months I lived with an ileostomy bag.


The new job I had started had already sacked me by then whilst I was recovering in hospital and I had lost a total of 30 odd kilograms and on 20+ pills a day for my illness. Five years prior to surgery I was diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease called Crohn’s Disease. It had indeed almost spelled the end of me. Fair to say life was kicking me in the guts. I needed something to focus on. Something to bring life into a new healing body and mind.


That is the same time I came across memory techniques. My friend who introduced me to memory would visit me in hospital and we would chat about memorisation methods and I would be in my hospital bed trying to memorise a pack of cards. Once I re-learned how to walk and was out of hospital, I was fortunate enough to make it to my university graduation day, ileostomy bag and all, and I was slowly getting my life back together at age 25. Recovering at home, I spent quite a bit of time reflecting on life, reading, and getting myself ready to work again.


The following year my friend and I entered the Australian Memory Championships, again placing 2nd and 3rd. We were much better and decided to compete internationally at the 2003 World Memory Championships in Malaysia. We were the first ever competitors to represent Australia which was exciting. We thought we were definitely going to come last competing against the very best. However, it would be super fun seeing the best in the world compete and also go shopping in KL.


The World Memory Championships is a three-day event, as opposed to the shortened one-day affair of the Australian Memory Championships. We had events that took one-hour of memorisation, instead of the usual five minutes. Nevertheless, despite our lack of experience we gave it a good crack. Both of us did really well. Personally, I had broken five personal best memory records and had a total of six Australian memory records. Something which had not been achieved before.


I had even beaten my memory hero and eight-time World Memory Champion Dominic O’Brien in two events - Names & faces and random/historic dates. I had also achieved a Grandmaster of Memory Norm for memorising a randomly shuffled deck of cards in under three minutes. A feat which not many competitors had achieved back then. Fair to say, it was a successful trip and it made me realise that someone like me with a ‘shocking memory’ can actually remember anything I wanted. I just had to use techniques.


It made me think that if someone like me can do it, anyone else surely can. So I set my task on trying to help as many people as I can learn these techniques as I knew they had a deeper application than just remembering a series of numbers or playing cards.

By Tansel Ali -

  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black YouTube Icon