October is upon us and in the time honoured 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 a UK Mixed Martial Arts centric look at five key achievers and influencer’s 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
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 a popular fan favourite. For an athlete who made the transition to fighting at a very high level at a very quick rate Jimi has always had his sights set on fighting the very best in the world. Currently the most highest ranked UK Light heavy weight in the UFC Manuwa has set his sights on fighting for the coveted LHW strap before his career is through.
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 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 also a competitor and instructor but has also 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 recently announced 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 host of names set to bolster an already impressive list of recent European signings he masterminded.
Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley
‘Semtex’, the powerful puncher hailing from Nottingham has been an influential mainstay on the UKMMA scene and internationally. Revered for his ability talk the talk and back it up, usually in the form of vicious left hook, Daley has fought for many of the prominent fight promotions and against top level opponents. A former member of the infamous Rough House fight stable Daley influenced a generation of fighters with his lethal come forward style whether at the contractual negotiation table or inside the cage.
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