Clermont County’s own, Matt Hamill, has made himself into a consistent winner in one of the most recently developed sports crazes, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
The sport was developed in 1992 and rules and regulations were added in 1999.
Hamill who grew up on the Clermont County section of Loveland is the son of Alex Hamill, a former member of the faculty at Amelia High School and a state champion powerlifter in three states including Ohio. His mom, Janet Rich, is a descendant of one of the legendary sports families in Ohio, the McCoys. She is the youngest daughter of Stan and Joyce McCoy. He is an Ohio football coaching legend who is a member of the Clermont County and Loveland High School sports halls of fame. He coached many years, primarily at Loveland, but also at Milford and Goshen, also serving as the superintendent of the latter’s school district. Hamill’s step dad, Michael Rich, was his successful wrestling coach in high school and was himself a stellar athlete, arguably the best softball player to ever compete on Clermont County diamonds.
With all of his gene inheritance and athletic influence, Hamill is just naturally a very successful athlete. He was a state qualifying high school wrestler at Loveland. In college he was a three-time NCAA Division III national champion in wrestling while earning a diploma in electrical engineering at the National Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, N. Y. He was also a two-time world champion in freestyle wrestling.
His many successes earned Hamill a 1994 selection into the Division III Wrestling Hall of Fame. It was noted he was chosen, in part, for being the first American wrestler to win gold medals in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling in the 1997 World Games for the Deaf that took place in Copenhagen, Denmark.
His Mixed Martial Arts record is currently is 3-0. The 6-foot, 2-inch, 205-pounder is known as "The Hammer" in this sport and justifiably so. He is a member of the UFC Association's Team Punishment.
His first professional fight was a technical knockout of Jesse Forbes in the Ultimate Fighter Finale 3 that took place on June 24, 2006. This occurred in the first five-minute round in 4-minutes, 47-seconds. Match two took place Oct. 10, 2006, at the Ortiz versus Shamrock 3 and here "The Hammer" went all three rounds and earned a unanimous decision over Seth Petruzelli.
Match three took place Mar. 3, 2007, at the Nationwide Center in Columbus, Ohio, as part of the Ultimate Fighting Championship 68. Here, before a crowd of more than 10,000, he won another technical knockout over Rex Holman of the Columbus area. Even though the bout took place in the home area of Holman, a former wrestling standout at Ohio State University, the very popular Hamill was loudly cheered after the match was stopped by the referee after exactly four minutes of hammering dealt out to Holman.
Hamill's first touch with the sport occurred while was he working as a bouncer during the evenings at a Rochester tavern. During the day he was working as an electrician.
"I threw out two football players and the bartender must have been impressed. He asked me to join the UFC. I never thought that I'd be accepted," said Hamill. "I was accepted two weeks later. They told me I was one of the top twelve out of three thousand people!"
"My first fight was really exciting. My parents were there to see it," said Hamill of his preliminary matches before moving up to the pro level. His second fight was in Cincinnati at the Forest Fair Mall and then a series of three took place in Florida. He won two of these fights by knockout and three by decision.
The Holman victory at Ultimate Fighting Championship 68 Hamill considered, "my best effort so far. I've only got a year and a half of experience, but I hope to keep getting better as I go along. . . I'm really happy to have won tonight. There were so many fans and I didn't want to disappoint them. My parents and my brother and sister (Pat Hamill and Heather Rich) were here and a lot of other people from Loveland and Clermont County and Cincinnati."
"It's very, very exciting. It's heartwarming to see Pat in his brother's corner, too," said Matt's mom. "I get nervous when he's in the ring, but it's a wonderful thing to have all the family together. The ovation he got when he came to the ring brought out the tears. I'm so proud of him that he always believes in himself and follows his goals."
Hamill is expected to be a big success in the UFC. His idol and mentor from years ago, Doug Blubaugh is a renowned United States Olympian and world champion wrestler. He said of Hamill when his understudy was just in the summer before his freshman year of high school, "He's the most physical wrestler I've ever coached. I don't see why he couldn't do it."
Hamill has been wrestling for 26 years and utilizes his vast knowledge of the sport to his advantage in the UFC. He says takedowns and other wrestling holds are very helpful in his fight.
"I'm trying to learn more about kickboxing and striking, and ju jitsu," he said.
The father of six-year old Tierra would eventually "like to open up my own gym in Rochester to teach kids wrestling and mixed martial arts."
For the time being, though, Hamill is content to pursue titles and laurels in the UFC.
"This is a great sport, a dream come true for me, but my heart and my mind want me to go to the 2008 Olympic wrestling trials. I love both sports. I'm confused about which path I should take."