Mohamed Itoumine was refereeing at the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament in Wolverhampton, England, last month. To his surprise, one of the contestants was Tom Hardy, a big-time Hollywood actor credited with the Batman franchise from Mad Max: Fury Road to Venom. He also starred in the MMA film “Warrior” in 2011.
Hardy, a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, won the REORG Open on 20 August in both the gi (traditional martial arts uniform) and no-gi tournaments. Hardy competed in the 36-year-old and up division, 85.5 kg in no-GI and 82.3 kg in GI. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which emphasizes fighting on the ground, is one of the major martial arts used in MMA.
After Hardy’s final victory, he and Itoumine talked. Hardy works with the REORG charity, which helps military veterans in the United Kingdom return home. A few weeks later, Itoumine was running its own tournament, sponsored by REORG.
“He said, ‘Put me down, I’m coming,'” Itoumine told ESPN. “In his funny voice he said: ‘Trust me.'”
Still, Itoumine was skeptical that Hardy would actually appear. He’s a huge movie star, after all. Three weeks before the tournament, Itoumine got the registration list back and Hardy’s name was there. Itoumine decided that he would keep it a secret so as not to give any unwanted attention to Hardy’s involvement. Hardy competed under his real name, Edward.
“He is a man of his word,” said Itoumine. “It really impressed me.”
And then, at the Ultimate Martial Arts Championships (UMAC) tournament in Milton Keynes, Hardy went out and won again. Competing in the 41-year-olds-and-up division, Hardy competed in the GI in 82.3 kg, presenting all three of his opponents on his way to the gold medal.
The man who played the dreaded Batman villain Bane is really skilled in real life.
“She’s really legit,” said Itoumine, a second-degree black belt. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, Tom Hardy – he’s just a superstar.’ No, you put him on the mat and he will crush you.”
Andy Leatherland said there was some whispering that Hardy could compete at UMAC after his surprise participation at Wolverhampton. He knew that if Hardy entered the tournament, he would probably be in his bracket. The day before the event, the registration list was published and Leatherland saw that if they both passed it they would face “Edward Hardy” in the final. And he did.
Leatherland said the crowd was “buzzing” during Hardy’s matches and that everyone had their phones recording and taking pictures.
“The lining up for the final was nerve-wracking,” said Leatherland. “I didn’t talk to him nor did he talk to me, we were both just focused on the match. As we went ahead and faced each other, I realized who I was facing but as The referee started the match, the focus shifted, to be in the moment and Tom just became the guy trying to take me down – and I was wondering how best to counter him and attack.”
Leatherland said he made an error and Hardy jumped on his foot and got a straight leg lock submission.
“It was just another fight, but clearly it wasn’t because Tom is internationally recognized, so I’ll remember it for a long time,” Leatherland said. “He later talked about his nerves for the day, to which I agreed” [competing]In general, difficult and stressful. He said his life is on stage, he’s okay with it, but jiu-jitsu is real and affects him like everyone else.”
On Wednesday, 45-year-old Hardy posted on Instagram about his foray into Brazilian jiu-jitsu, while also promoting REORG, which he wrote is “to encourage ex-servicemen, active military, and first responders to engage in Brazilian jiu jitsu and physical fitness.” encourages and enables the use of training as a therapy to overcome physical and mental challenges, strengthen social connections, and improve overall health and well-being.”
“Simple training, to me (as a hobby and a personal love) is fundamentally important for developing inner resilience, a deep sense of calm and well-being,” Hardy wrote of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. “I cannot stress enough how important it is and the impact it has had on my life and that of my fellow mates.”
Danny Appleton, a military veteran and part of the REORG program, faced Hardy in the REORG Open semifinals in the GI Division last month. He said that he was surprised to compete against a celebrity like Hardy and was directly impressed by Hardy’s strength. Hardy presented Appleton with an armbar after avoiding a cross-collar choke and a triangle choke attempt.
“I was very surprised at his strength,” Appleton told ESPN. “He had really good technique to go from one submission to the next. Super impressive.”
Later, Appleton said that he had a conversation with Hardy, who told him how tight the cross-collar choke was and that he would come and train with her in future Gracie Barra Middlesboro.
“He was very down to earth,” Appleton said. “He talked to my kids who are both fans and both practice jiu-jitsu. We talked about REORG and how much they did for him, the time it took for him to compete as well as be a trustee for him. pulled out.”
Itoumine thinks Hardy, who represents Roger Gracie’s jiu-jitsu team in England and trained under Carlos Gomez in Los Angeles, is close to a purple belt and that Hardy could one day earn his black belt. They won’t be surprised.
“I think he’s been there for a long time,” Itoumine said. “I think he will [get his black belt], He definitely will. He loves it a lot. He told me, ‘It’s an addiction to me.'”