I could barely walk, now I compete in MMA

I could barely walk, now I compete in MMA

A couple of years ago Chris Hayes found himself at an all-time low. The former Royal
Marine had suffered years of mental health problems and had even attempted to take
his own life. Then a chance encounter with REORG founder Sam Sheriff completely
turned his life around.

“I could barely walk,” Chris said. “I had just come out of hospital after making a pretty
solid attempt at finishing myself off. I was shuffling around in a terrible state, my
bladder was shutting down, I needed to go back into hospital and I just couldn’t see how
the misery would ever end. Then this guy I’d never met before spotted my regimental
tattoo and asked me if I was okay. He had this air about him so I opened up, told him I
was in a really bad place and he just said: ‘Right, what are you doing in 45 minutes?’”

Sam introduced Chris to Stuart McDowell, head instructor at the nearby Premier
Kickboxing academy in Newton Abbot. Chris knew little about the world of martial arts
and could just about tell you that the UFC was “that thing with Conor McGregor” and jiu-
jitsu was “the huggy one”.

Chris “clicked immediately with instructor Stuart, and “that day turned the corner and
never looked back”. Chris is now a total convert, competing in MMA and jiu-jitsu
tournaments as soon as his coaches would allow, and right up until Covid put its foot
down. Despite the difficulties of the last year, he hasn’t allowed the lockdowns to effect
his dedication.

“Like everyone else I got sucked into the initial panic then just realised we had to get on
with it. My coach Stuart was pretty good at keeping everyone training and I make sure
there is no quitting, whether that means learning from YouTube, or doing solo drills,
anything to keep going until the gyms open again.”

Chris is now 32 and works as a welder and fabricator. Prior to starting martial arts he
had put on a lot of weight, adding to his health issues, and he is now proud of his lean
80kg fighting weight.

“I can’t overstate how much Sam has helped me and how much REORG has done for me.
REORG has been like another brotherhood for me. The fact that Sam is there looking out
for me is incredible. I know if I’ve had a bad day I know I can text Sam and he has always
got my back. I don’t want to sound soft, but Sam saved my life, 100 per cent. I am
welling up when I say this but I can honestly say that if I hadn’t met him that day, I don’t
know what would have happened.”

“By no means are all my problems in the past. I still talk to my therapist every week. But
I no longer take any medication – I took antidepressants for years and they blunt you
and confuse you, that stuff dopes you out. Training is a much better way of dealing with
your problems. It isn’t always easy, dragging yourself out of bed into the cold to go and
do martial arts, but it is always worth it. The momentary pain is always a price worth
paying, and the rewards are limitless.”