In the UFC, and mixed martial arts in general, fighters are consistently faced with challenges; from competing injured, being away from their family for long periods of time, and having strict dieting plans. One fighter, however, has the same challenges faced by every fighter, along with one of his own.
Matt “The Hammer” Hamill is to this day one of the only deaf fighters to fight in the octagon.
Hamill was born on October 5, 1976 in Loveland, Ohio. He was born deaf, but his family initially refused to believe the doctor’s diagnosis that he was deaf and dumb. After Matt’s grandfather insisted on more tests, it was soon confirmed that Matt was in fact born deaf. Matt’s family tried to make sure that no matter what he did he would be just like the rest of the kids growing up, so they refused to send him to a special needs school. Throughout his life, Hamill was bullied and taunted by other students in school, and was rejected by most social groups in high school. Hamill used this as motivation, and was introduced by his step father to wrestling. Although high school was not accompanied by close friends and many social interactions, Hamill excelled on the wrestling mat, and was offered a full ride scholarship to wrestle at Purdue University.
Once attending Purdue University, however, Hamill was met with trouble. Hamill had an extremely hard time keeping up with his classes, and had a coach that didn’t understand the effect of being deaf had on Hamill. After his freshman year at Purdue, Hamill lost his scholarship because of poor grades, and posted a losing record on the wrestling mat. After moving back to Loveland, Ohio, Hamill began working as a bouncer and an auto mechanic. Soon, his parents decided to take out a second mortgage on their house to fund his tuition at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), where he walked onto the wrestling team. There at RIT, there is a great deal of the student body (about 9%) that is deaf. Here, Hamill began learning more about deaf culture (he had never learned anything about it, due to the fact he knew no other deaf people.) Even at RIT, though, Hamill had problems socializing because of his lack of American Sign Language knowledge.
At RIT, Hamill began picking up where he left on from high school on the wrestling mat. Three years in a row Hamill won the NCAA Division III national title. In 1999, Hamill graduated from RIT with a degree in electrical engineering. Upon graduating, Hamill continued to wrestle, and won a silver and gold medal in the 2001 Summer Deaflympics. After failing to make the US Olympic team, fellow MMA fighter Rich Franklin suggested that Hamill begin a career in fighting. After one fight, Hamill became a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter, where he grew a large fan base.
Despite the disadvantage of never being able to hear his coaches’ instructions while he fights inside the octagon, Matt “The Hammer” Hamill became a great MMA success story, and even a bigger role model for any deaf athletes in the world.
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Posted By: Uplifter |
3/24/14 11:08 AM
Inspirational! If he can do this you should never say the word can't