After seeing him politely open the door for a senior citizen in downtown Oliver, you’d never guess that Marlan Hall gets his kicks by beating people up in a steel cage.
But that’s what he does, and does well.
The 17-year-old, who frowns upon bullying, is making his way up the MMA (mixed martial arts) ladder, with a record of six wins and three losses.
Battling opponents in a game of physical chess is a growing sport that Hall can’t get enough of.
“I want to become the world champ one day . . . it’s just a passion I have.”
Hall grew up in Oliver with a love for wrestling. He often tussled with family members and friends in his backyard, imitating what he saw in sanctioned MMA matches on television. He then began training with his buddies and found out he was good at it.
“You have to have a good skill set. Anyone can throw a hard punch, but it’s really the technique.”
Mixed martial arts consists of boxing, kicking and wrestling. The object is to knock your opponent out or force him into submission.
Hall’s first fight was in Washington State two years ago. He challenged a 19-year-old and beat him in one minute with a triangle choke. Not bad for only having one day to prepare for the fight.
Two weeks later he beat another opponent and has never looked back. He now trains five to six days a week, knowing that cardiovascular preparation is number one. (Too many times fighters lose because they run out of steam during a match.)
Hall admitted he still gets nervous when he enters the cage, noting that any fighter who says he isn’t scared is a liar. But for Hall, the fear disappears when his opponent lands the first punch or kick.
Hall is known for his stand-up game and striking ability, but he is also dangerous on the ground by utilizing jiu-jitsu techniques. His favourite move is the “anaconda choke.”
Hall acknowledged that MMA is a violent sport, but he loves it. The money isn’t that good unless you’re a top ranked fighter, but he’s working on getting there. His goal is to fight in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). However, he’s not naïve, since he plans to get a degree in business administration in order to become an entrepreneur and set up his own MMA events.
Hall said the sport has truly helped turn his life around. “I used to party every day, but my training has me really focused in life . . . I go in there (the cage) doing what I like to do. I treat it as a business.”
Hall said he’d like to set up amateur events and get local youth involved, with the hope of turning their lives around also.
The student at Southern Okanagan Secondary School is a member of the Link Crew that speaks out against bullying. He even wears a pink shirt to support the cause.
“I’m a mellow guy. I’m too nice to punch someone in the face (unless it’s in the cage).”