By Caoilte de Barra
The finals of the 2022 IMMAF Oceania Championships are not far away, and 2020 strawweight gold medalist Troy Fumo is looking to win a second Oceania gold medal. This time he will not be competing at 115lbs, opting to move up to 125lbs to get matched.
The move up is not uncommon given the lack of depth at strawweight regionally, he explained:
“Not a lot of us are small guys, so I went up to flyweight just for the competition. I’m always chasing the harder fights, and this fight at flyweight will be a tougher test, and I like to get those tougher tests before going to the World Championships.”
Even though a national teammate, Adam Assuncao, will be standing across from him. Fumo is unphased and described it as “just business”.
Fumo is coming into the competition on the back of the 2021 IMMAF World Championships, which had mixed results. He was one of the standouts on the second day, where he won via von flue choke but crashed out via decision the following day. After competing back to back for the first time, he detailed the overall experience:
“It was the first time I fought one day after another, so I learnt a lot from that. I felt better the second day. I thought I would feel progressively worse, but I felt better. It was like I was more switched on the second day. It’s like the first day was a bit of a warm-up, and even though the second fight didn’t go my way, I felt looser and more relaxed.
“The World Championships – there is no experience like it. I always tell the other amateurs if you want to make the most out of your amateur career, you have to pursue the IMMAF scene.”
The flyweight finalist has reached some highs from competing. He highlights the professionalism of the large-scale international tournaments, which have given him knowledge of facing top-tier competition.
His drive to compete came after his first BJJ competition. However, the decision to step on the mats may have saved him from going down the wrong path.
“I just wanted to defend myself. I felt a bit vulnerable, you know. I fight at strawweight, and we’re small people. I grew up in a bit of a rough area, so I wanted to know some type of skills that could potentially save my life someday.
“There were a lot of gangs, violence and fights. Being small, if I got into a fight with someone, it could have ended pretty badly for me. I witnessed fights where people were unable to defend themselves and got really hurt.”
Fumo believed he was tip-toeing a line and was aware that could be him. As a result, he decided to train in martial arts since “relying on natural instincts wasn’t enough, that didn’t give me enough security.”
Not only did martial arts give him the feeling of security, but also it shifted his mindset.
“To be honest, when I was young, I thought that was cool. I was attracted to that lifestyle. It was actually martial arts that drove me away from that lifestyle because I had a huge ego and always wanted to prove myself. Even though I was small, I wanted to think that I was this big lion. It wasn’t until I got into martial arts that my ego got crushed cause I was getting absolutely smashed on the mats.”
Fast forward a couple of years, and now the Aussie is waving his nation’s flag high at the highest level for amateurs in the sport. Something he never imagined when he first began.
“I never thought that when I first stepped into a martial arts gym, I would be waving the Australian flag on a podium with a medal around my neck.
“Even MMA didn’t have that around when I first started. But yeah, the sport has grown, and it’s heading in a really positive direction thanks to IMMAF. I’m just going with the journey at the moment and growing as the sport grows. It’s an honour for me. Not only to represent my country but be a part of these earlier stages of the sport as it’s developing, and I can’t even imagine how big it’s going to get.”
Ahead of his historic finals match, the 28-year-old is determined to leave Brisbane with a second gold medal around his neck.
“I’m always chasing to make history, [Winning gold in a second division] would be an honour for me. It’s awesome and another motivating factor for me to get the job done.”