The world of Mixed Martial Arts is well known for being one of the most brutal sports in the world. A sport where you can throw elbows and knee’s to the head and ‘ground and pound’ your opponents whilst they are on the canvas. Now, imagine entering this harsh world as a blind man.
This barbaric world of blood and guts is where Lee Hoy, a blind fighter, has chosen to get his frills. A place that you are caged in by wire fences and are left with only your instincts and split second reactions.
Talking about the sport and how much of a risk it is, Hoy said: “I know it seems a bit nuts, but that’s why I love it, it pushes me in a way nothing else does.”
Being born with the condition congenital toxoplasmosis gongii, a condition caused by a parasite infection in his retina, Lee has always been used to life being a bit more of a challenge than the next man. Lee’s eyesight is limited to the depth of a iPhone, he can’t see further than around 5 inches. When he is put in a darkened room with minimal light, he is completely blind.
Unfortunate people who have contracted this condition, a condition that can be caught by striking an infected cat, are normally confined to their home. But not Lee, he chooses to step into the octagon and fight.
“When I step into the cage I just feel this release, like this is what I was meant to do. The noise and lights and all the distractions just fade away. I just focus on winning; beating the person in front of me. I can’t really explain what it is that comes over me.”
Lee’s disadvantage is his blindness, he’s advantages are quite apparent, he is a well conditioned lightweight that weighs around 70kg. He has a lean physic that is perfectly adapt for fighting, very similar to that of Conor McGregor. When people have seen Lee spar, they have said that you can’t even tell that you are watching a blind man, he’s ability to track his opponents is second to none.
Lee explains where he thinks his abilities come from, which coincide with the fictional character ‘Daredevil,’ who’s father was a boxer: “I think it comes from my dad, he was a semi-professional boxer, but he gave it up when I was born. He won a lot of trophies; thankfully it looks like he passed on a bit of that skill to me.”
Lee talks about his experiences with gym life: “From the moment I arrived here, I was treated as one of the team. There was no special treatment; there was no tip-toeing around me because of my condition. That’s what I loved about it, being treated like any other member of the team. Here, I spar with the pro-fighters and the amateur fighters. There’s never a case of ‘no Lee, not today’, because they respect me and that means something.”
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