Mohamed Ituman officiated a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament last month in Wolverhampton, England. To his surprise, one of the participants was Tom Hardy, a famous Hollywood actor who has worked in Mad Max: Fury Road, Venom and Batman. He also starred in the MMA movie The Warrior in 2011.
Hardy, a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, ended up winning the REORG Open on August 20, both in the gi (a traditional form of martial arts) and in the non-gi tournaments. Hardy competed in the age group of 36 years, weighed 85.5 kg in the legs and 82.3 kg in the gi. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which emphasizes ground fighting, is one of the key martial arts used in MMA.
After Hardy’s final victory, he and Ituman talked. Hardy works with REORG, a charity that helps military veterans in the United Kingdom when they return home. A few weeks later, Itumaine held their own REORG-sponsored tournament.
“He said, ‘Let me go, I’m coming,'” Ituman told Sportzshala. “In a funny voice, he said, ‘Count on me.’
However, Ituman doubted that Hardy would actually show up. After all, he is a big movie star. Three weeks before the tournament, Ituman returned the registration list and it had Hardy’s name on it. Ituman decided he would keep this a secret so as not to draw unwanted attention to Hardy’s involvement. Hardy performed under his real name Edward.
“He is a man of his word,” Ituman said. “It really impressed me.”
And then, at the Ultimate Martial Arts Championships (UMAC) in Milton Keynes, Hardy came out and won again. Competing in the 41 and over weight class, Hardy competed in the gi at 82.3 kg and defeated all three of his opponents on his way to the gold medal.
The man who played the fearsome Batman villain Bane is truly experienced in real life.
“He’s really legit,” said Ituman, a second-degree black belt. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, Tom Hardy – he’s just a superstar.’ No, you put it on the carpet and it will crush you.”
Andy Leatherland said there were rumors that Hardy could compete in UMAC following his surprise involvement with Wolverhampton. He knew that if Hardy took part in the tournament, he would most likely be in his draw. The day before the event, the registration list was released and Leatherland saw that he would face “Edward Hardy” in the final if they both passed. And they did.
Leatherland said the crowd was “buzzing” during Hardy’s matches and everyone had their phones recording and taking pictures.
“Preparing for the final was very nerve-wracking,” Leatherland said. “I didn’t talk to him or he to me, we both just focused on the match. When we stepped forward and bumped into each other, I realized who I was bumping into, but when the referee started the match, the focus changed. to be in the moment and Tom just became the guy trying to knock me down and I thought about the best way to counter him and attack.”
Leatherland said he made a mistake and Hardy jumped on his foot and received a submission with a straight leg.
“It was just another fight, but definitely not the same one, because Tom is known all over the world, so I will remember this fight for a long time,” Leatherland said. “After that, he talked about his nerves during the day, which I agreed with as [competing]in general, hard and stressful. He said that given that his life is on stage, it suits him, but jiu-jitsu is real and affects him just like everyone else.
Hardy, 45, took to Instagram on Wednesday about his foray into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and also promoted REORG, which he wrote “encourages and enables veterans, active military and first responders to use Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and physical training.” Exercise as a form of therapy to overcome physical and mental challenges, strengthen social bonds, and improve overall health and well-being.”
“Simple training for me (as a hobby and personal love) has been a fundamental key to further developing a deeper sense of inner stability, calmness and well-being,” Hardy wrote of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. “I can’t stress enough its importance and impact on my life and the lives of my teammates.”
Danny Appleton, a war veteran and REORG member, faced Hardy in the REORG Open semi-finals last month in the gi category. He said he was surprised to be competing against someone as famous as Hardy and was immediately impressed with Hardy’s strength. Hardy subdued Appleton with an armbar after avoiding a cross collar choke and triangle choke attempt.
“I was very surprised by his strength,” Appleton told Sportzshala. “He had a really good technique for moving from one submission to another. Super impressive.”
Afterward, Appleton said he chatted with Hardy, who told him how tight the cross-collar choke was, and that in the future he would come and train with him at Middlesboro’s Gracie Barra.
“He was so down to earth,” Appleton said. “He talked to my kids, who are both fans and both jiu-jitsu practitioners. We talked about the REORG charity and how much he does for them by taking the time to compete as well as being their confidant.”
Itumen believes that Hardy, who represents Roger Gracie’s jiu-jitsu team in England and trained under Carlos Gomez in Los Angeles, is close to the purple belt, and he won’t be stunned if Hardy earns his black belt one day.
“I think he’s in the long run,” Ituman said. “I think he will [get his black belt]. He definitely will. He loves it so much. He told me, “This is my addiction.”