How it began

To understand the present and the future, you must first understand the past. To understand how Matt came to discover MMA, first you must understand how I did.

Back at high school I fell in love with sport and PE. I couldn’t get enough and there wasn’t a sport I didn’t play. I joined every possible team includng rounders, badminton, netball, hockey, girls football, athletics, basketball and lacrosse. Was I fitness mad? No! Quite simply I liked to compete and no challenge was ever too great, a personality trait which is still very much alive to date. My poor mum became a personal taxi service every night of the week for me to play for all these teams and at weekends it was lacrosse, lacrosse, lacrosse!!

However, when a friend joined a karate club I decided another club was just what I needed!! So one night a week I attend a small karate club in Marple led by Mark Boulton. I loved it!! It gave me some much needed self worth and confidence and when involved in an altercation at school, I handled myself just fine!! After 18 months or so, Mark decided to travel the world, meaning the class was to close. I was gutted! Lets be honest, what young girl doesn’t have little crush on their instructor!! But not all was lost, Mark had arranged for us to train with a close friend of his, Phil Wright.

Things were different though. Phil didn’t just teach karate, he was dabbling in the world of MMA! Lets face it, karate is a little girly, so I loved the challenge of this new training!! I continued to gain belts and improved to a point I could help teach the younger kids. I think my highest belt was purple! But I wasn’t bothered about belts, all they do is symbolise that an individual can undertake a list of techniques in a controlled environment. For me, it was about the sparring!! I may have been one of the few girls, but I liked the challenge of sparring with the boys and being able to do more than hold my own. I remember jabbing one lad in the face, (beautiful shot!!) and he ended up at the dentist that afternoon!

Outside of training, I had finished high school with 9 GCSE’s under my belt and started at the local college to study biology, PE and psychology at A-level. However, the importance of studying was starting to wane and going out and meeting boys was more fun!! I used to spend every Saturday night with my best friend Karen, and we’d go out and have some fun! On Saturday 8th January 1999, Karen and I were on another of our escapades when we met a group of lads, one of which was Matt! Matt and I had spent the night chatting away and flirting like mad, we’d even shared a few kisses at this point. I’d grilled him on all the vital information and was thrilled to find out he was 18 years old (I was only 16yrs at this point!!), he could drive (hugely important), he had a tattoo (which stands for dangerous!!) and attended the same college!!! Perfect!!

So the following Tuesday, Matt and I met at college and had some lunch. It was awful!!! He was so quiet and barely said two words the whole time. Even I (motor mouth) ran out of things to say. It was a complete disaster. So, I decided to bail and said ‘I’d see him around!!!’  However, much to my surprise Matt phoned me that evening and invited me out for a drink. I reluctantly accepted but on the proviso could bring Karen, I could not face an evening of awkward silence! Well I was pleasantly surprised! Matt was a lot more relaxed out of the college environment and we made a connection. We started to see each other and spend a lot of time together and quickly became boyfriend and girlfriend.

I’m not sure how long we’d been going out, maybe 6 months or so, but after a relentless campaign to get get Matt down to training, I had won!! To be honest, Matt was curious about what I had been talking about, but I still think he wanted to spend time with me! So Matt and a few mates ventured down one evening. Matt enjoyed it, but his friends quickly tired as the weeks went by, favouring the pub. Matt however, continued to train. Much to my annoyance he was actually quite good and was soon hot on my heels skill wise!!

We continued to train with Phil Wright for roughly 2 years and it was here we met our good friend and Matt’s coach, Aaron Chatfield. But Matt was learning there was more to MMA than Phil’s gym and was becoming more curious about the wider scene, a curiosity fueled through the Internet and on-line forums. Matt started to get itchy feet and wanted to compete but Phil had never really discussed competitions and taking the training to the next level. I had brought the subject up with Phil after training one evening, and he laughed saying ‘Matt thinks hes going to be in the UFC’. I too laughed at this throwaway comment and could see the truth in it. What I didn’t anticipate is that it became the definitive moment for Matt and his MMA career. This comment alone is what drives Matt to this day, the training, the sacrifices he makes and the risks he takes. That one liner is what made Matt step up and take his training to a new level, putting him on his current path towards the UFC.

Unfortunately for Phil he had to close the gym which left Matt no where to train. This was when Matt, Aaron and I moved onto the coliseum.


One Response to “How it began”

  1. This is like a good book… compelling reading and you have a nice style.

    You also mention me a few times, which clearly makes the blog better 🙂


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