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Neil Hall

Neil Hall Mixed Martial Arts Referee & Martial Artist

Neil Hall

 
 
 
Neil Hall has been involved in martial arts for more than three decades, in disciplines ranging from Shotokan Karate, Thai and kickboxing. He then became involved in Mixed Martial Arts right at the start of the sport's
beginning and has now become a familiar face at many fight shows in his role as a top referee. Recently he started up MMA Officials UK one of the leading companies supplying both referees and judges to top shows.
Martial News Editor Phil Doherty talks to Neil about his long martial arts career and his passion for MMA.
 
Phil Doherty: Hello Neil, thank you for allowing us to interview you...

PD: Let's start with how you started in martial arts, what ago you began and what systems you began your career in? As well as competitive sports martial arts I believe you are also well-trained in street combat self-protection as well?

NH: Yes, I was training with Dave Turton and I was with him for quite some time training in reality self-defence.  I was part of the British Combat Association when it started and Dave was teaching Geoff Thompson combat Ju-jitsu. Dave then left the BCA at then started the Self-Defence Federation and I have stayed with Dave ever since.
 
PD: How did you get into MMA?

NH: Around 2000 I started an MMA gym called Fighting Chance and that was one of the first MMA gym in the UK. It was a good venue and we had a lot of great guys training there. Up to 2005 was the magic time for the gym.  

PD: You've also have a strong grappling background as well...
 
NH: I started doing Sambo and I competed in that at both national and international level. Because I have a Judo and Ju-jitsu background I didn't find difficult to take up Sambo, although the rules are different. At one point I was doing Judo, Sambo, MMA, Thai and Kickboxing. 

PD: As a martial artist how would you describe yourself?
 
NH: I'm basically an obsessed martial artists. I love it all, self-defence, striking and grappling. I've been doing BJJ now for ten years as well so I believe that I have an all round game. I'm also able to separate them so I don't mix up my Judo with Sambo.

PD: What happened to your Fight Chance Gym?

NH: The gym keep going and I got a chance to do teach at another that wanted to pay me. It was a great time at Fighting Chance but it was time to move on and this opportunity came up and I took it. After a while I realised I wanted to be my own man again and I left the other gym and set up the Allegiance Gym. Its in the same building that original Fighting Chance gym and I still have lads from that gym now training at Allegiance.

Neil HallPD: When did you set up the Allegiance Gym?

NH: That was about a year and a half ago. I been building it up over that time and now we have produced six MMA champions and we have guys competing in BJJ and in a couple of weeks we have a couple of guys  who are going of to Long Beach, California, United States, at the World Open Competition. And we have a couple of K-1 events as well, so we are quite busy.


PD: What is the Allegiance Gym like?

NH: The facilities are really good. We have a large matted area, a good cage and a small weight room. The walls are padded out and we have a bag area so it has everything we need to produce good fighters. It also only five minutes from the M1 and M62 so its easy to get to as well.

PD: What are your ambitions?
 
NH: My ambitions are the same as everyone, I suppose. It would be great to get some fighters into the UFC and have some world-class champs. But what is really important that people are happy with their training. That is my biggest ambition. I want to take it as far as I can and for people to be happy with what we have to over. The gym has a real friendly atmosphere and is place where people feel comfortable and it also a place where people can compete or can train for fitness.
 
PD: Tell me about MMA Officials UK...
 
MH: This is a natural progression for me.  I started judging bouts for shows from around 2001 and I got interested in doing refereeing MMA shows. It occurred to that I should set up a refereeing and judging service and it just evolved from that.  
 
PD: You now have one of the best reputations in the MMA world for your service...
 
NH: Thank you for saying that...well recently we really have been pushing this service as its own entity so its nice to be recognised. There are some people who do to make as much money as they can and then there are those who have grown up in the industry and its more of a passion for them. I believe I fall into the later category because MMA is my life and I want to do it right for both the safety and standards of the sport. 
 
PD: So you think standards in MMA refereeing and judging have risen over the years?

NH: Yes I think standards have risen in recent years because people now realise there are courses available. But we still need to educate people on what is on offer. I'm always talking to promoters as well - without being patronising - to try and help raise the overall standards in the sport. I'm trying to make people more aware of the rising standards. I must have officiated at thousands and thousands of bouts now.
 

PD: Thank you Neil...I really enjoyed our interview

Neil's Allegiance Gym is based at Alexandra Mills, Bradford Road , Batley, West Yorkshire  

For further information on Allegiance Gym or MMA Officials UK visit: http://www.mmaofficials.co.uk/