By Caoilte de Barra
At the 2022 Pan American Championships, Jamaica will return for the first time since 2019. Only one athlete is heading to the event; in a unique case, the athlete is also the acting President of the federation, Imran Hall. Competing at lightweight, Hall was also the sole representative at the previous set of Pan American Championships when he failed to make it past the opening round.
Hall is currently readying himself for the competition and explained how “preparations are going ok” ahead of his second IMMAF outing. He acknowledged that he is the only athlete flying the flag for Jamaica in Monterrey but anticipates more to make the trip for future events now that restrictions have eased. He said:
“I wish more Jamaicans could participate. Our country recently opened up, so sponsorship was an issue. We will see more Jamaican fighters in future events.”
When growing up in Jamaica, Hall admitted he didn’t have an easy time. The country is renowned for its tropical climate, but unfortunately, many places are impacted by crime. And discovering martial arts helped shape his life for the good.
“Jamaica is a beautiful country. But many places face the effects of violence and crime. I had a rough childhood growing up. Martial Arts guided me and helped me greatly when I was young. I started out with Shi Tai Kickboxing in Spanish Town and then Lion Pride MMA in Kingston. I am honoured to be the acting President of MMA Jamaica Sports Federation. Martial Arts has given me some great opportunities in life.”
The popularity of Mixed Martial Arts is growing in Jamaica, predominantly because of the athletes representing the nation in the UFC. Hall explained that he’d shared the mats with some of them.
“I have been lucky to train with UFC Champion Aljamain Sterling and Randy Brown. I’m looking forward to meeting Uriah Hall one day.” and joked about how they could be related. Two of the mentioned athletes hail from Spanish town, which Hall calls home, the father of four detailed how they inspire him.
“Both Uriah and Randy are from Spanish Town like me. I definitely take inspiration from the fact they made it to UFC coming from Spanish Town. My greatest source of inspiration comes from my family, my wife Andrea, my parents, and my four daughters. At least two of them will be future fighters.”
Despite not having much success in his first outing, “Fyah” has found some success on the regional scene but has been without action since 2019. He hopes his return will allow him to showcase the talent Jamaica has to offer.
“It [The 2019 Pan American Championships] was a great experience the first time. It gave me a chance to see what it is like to compete at the highest level in amateur MMA. I’m looking forward to fighting hard for Jamaica. Jamaicans are born fighters!”