Uriah Hall: Dark experiences of junior high fueled me into martial arts

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I’ve always labeled Uriah Hall as an enigma. His potential is unlimited as a fighter, while he couldn’t be more of a nicer human being. He’s always been articulate in interviews and from being on the Ultimate Fighter. Despite losing his first two fights in the UFC, the future still seemed bright for him. He finally showed his potential in a dominant victory over Chris Leben.

His life wasn’t always filled of optimism and people telling him about how much of a bright future he had. Just like many immigrants, he had a tough childhood coming into the United States after growing up in Jamaica. Unlike many immigrants, it wasn’t because of a lack of resources. His struggles came from adapting to a new environment. His experiences in junior high school were disturbing to say the least.  He elaborated more about it during yesterday’s media lunch for the UFC’s Black History month tour.

Uriah Hall: Dark experiences of junior high fueled me into martial arts

“I guess I was just different. Some kids have always been so brutal. You can’t put two kids, who clearly dislike each other and tell them to shake hands. For me, I didn’t understand how to fit in whether it was because they talked different or wearing some kind of jeans. Where I’m from, none of that existed. I was born in Jamaica so I was different by being more disciplined and that didn’t connect well with kids.”

The lack of connection with other students in junior high led to more serious things occurring. Eventually he became the victim of bullying and was on the receiving end of beatings. Ironically he believes that the bullying wasn’t racially based.

“The bullying I received wasn’t racially based. I got teased because I never picked up on trends. It was just a different culture for me to experience, especially when I got beat up. I got beat up on the bus one time and told myself that I’m going to pick up a gun and shoot this dude. This was in junior high. I’m on the bus and they would beat the crap out of me, whether it was an individual or a group. It gotten to the point, where I wanted to shoot or stab these dudes. Eventually I calmed down and just learned to walk home at times to avoid these situations.” Hall said.

“Movies helped me learn a lot growing up. When I watched a certain movie with my mom, it made me learn how to avoid trouble. Then I started learning and training martial arts, which led to kids respecting me in high school. I never gloated about it though. I’d always keep it to myself. They would see the Tiger Schulman’s bag and that would be it.”

While talking to him, it seemed like the dark part of Hall’s life was over. He wasn’t done explaining his disheartening experiences in junior high.

“Things had gotten depressing though. I even considered suicide in junior high. At one point, the bullying got to the point where I didn’t want to wake up in the morning and deal with it. What was the point? I didn’t want to go to school. That’s how painful it was around the age of 12 and 13. Those were harsh times, but it shaped me into being a stronger person. It’s those moments that mold you into being a man. After those experiences, I’ll be the first person to step up to any bully and gladly beat them up.”

After overcoming the brutality and terrifying thoughts, he’s become a huge success and has now been selected to represent the UFC on their Black History month tour.

“I’m in awe of being selected to do the Black History month tour, especially with the champ Demetrious Johnson.  Its great to be a representative for the UFC.” Hall stated.

Hall will be in Philadelphia today to continue the tour. He’s come a long way from being bullied in Queens, New York to now becoming a well-known fighter. His story made me wonder about the extreme effects of bullying. Many people look at bullying as a terrible action, but tend to forget about how severe it can become. Hall reminded me of how extreme bullying can become..

I know this didn’t have much to do with fighting. Thankfully I had over an hour to talk to Uriah. That is why I broke it down into two parts. The first part was going to be about his childhood and why he’s been always vocal about anti-bullying. I’ll be posting the second part of the interview on Thursday, where he talks about finding his identity as a fighter, Lyoto Machida’s influence, and more.

You can follow me on twitter at @Allen_Strk

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