October is upon us and in the time honored tradition for the month Black History is being given its due recognition. From a black Brit perspective we seem to look at our American cousins and celebrate their experiences, recognise their struggle, but ultimately neglect acknowledging our own. To mix things up, in terms of the month’s propensity to deliver facts and figures that relate to notables in Black History, I thought I’d deliver an updated UK Mixed Martial Arts centric look at five key achievers this side of the pond.
Long considered one of the early pioneers of MMA in the UK and can claim the auspicious title of influencing and nurturing the growth of the sport. He’s fought a who’s who of names, Fedor and Cro Cop are just a couple of names that’ll ring a bell. Given his host of achievements inside the cage, as well as turning his hand to promotion, it’s understandable why Hasdell has long been considered the godfather of UKMMA.
Now working in security and close protection Hasdell continues to put his well worn skills to good use in the mentoring of others involved in the security industry and those he is hired to guard. Many of the household / old school names that we appreciate in UKMMA today have fought on one of Hasdell’s shows in Milton Keynes.
Jimi ‘Posterboy’ Manuwa
Whilst now retired was arguably one of the most lethal strikers in Europe the ‘Posterboy’ has entertained crowds from small night clubs to packed arenas. Even though he was born in Sacramento he is a British citizen, a proud South Londoner by his own admission, and still a popular fan favourite. For an athlete who made the transition to fighting at a very high level in a very short space of time. Jimi seems set to transition into coaching where we can see his skills transferred to the next generation of KO specialists.
Mark ‘The Wizard’ Weir
Weir was an imposing figure on the combat scene before making the transition to mixed martial arts. The Tae Kwon Do black belt remained unbeaten on the circuit until he turned his hand to MMA. He was KO’d in his first outing. Undeterred he went on an impressive eight fight win streak before he was snapped up by the UFC for their inaugural UK show. ‘The Brawl at the Hall’ took place at the Royal Albert Hall and he was the first black Brit in the UFC’s Octagon and on his arrival ended his opponent, Eugene Jackson, via KO in just 10 seconds.
Europe’s first black matchmaker, arguably the best in the region, who not only is an accomplished BJJ black belt, (also the first black British Black Belt in BJJ (3rd in Europe) awarded by Mauricio Gomes) he’s a competitor and instructor who has graced the cage too and is undefeated. After making all of BAMMA’s tent pole fights Samuel has now progressed to look after Bellator’s European roster in his role as Head of Talent relations, talent development and recruitment. With a phone book that consists of a virtual who’s who of names in combat sports at his fingertips, look out for a new raft of names set to bolster an already impressive list of recent European signings he masterminded.
With little fanfare, bluster or rhetoric Malata has quickly occupied the tabloid space with the utmost integrity and always mindful of the journalist code ‘never become the story’. Chisanga is a long-serving member of the Daily Star and Express online sports team. His particular expertise is combat sports. He began his career in October 2013 and has covered some of the most prominent fighters and events in mixed martial arts. In February of this year he began writing a weekly UFC column for the Daily Star.
Kane Mousah – Businessman / Fighter
Fabian Edwards Fighter
Paul Daley – Fighter / Businessman
Buddea Johnson – MC
Paul Sutherland – Fighter / Judge
Leon Edwards – Fighter
Dean Amasinger – Fighter / Coach
Linton Vassell – Fighter
Michael Venom Page – Fighter
Roberto Reid – Media outlet owner
Marc Diakiese – Fighter
Che Mills – Fighter
Jeremy Bailey – Fighter / Coach
Have I missed anyone, let me know via Twitter.
Photo Credit: Lucas Noone