As of Sept. 22, Oliver’s Marlan “Pretty Boy” Hall can call himself the Amateur Featherweight Champion for the Battlefield Fight League.
The 23-year-old local mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter has been working toward this goal for a long time and is already looking toward what’s next.
“It’s a small step for where I want to go, not a lot of people get this opportunity to get a title like this. So it’s a nice trophy to put on the shelf,” said Hall.
His hard work is starting to pay off as his community continues to cheer him on and encourage him. This support is even taking a new form now that he is officially being sponsored by Penticton and Oliver’s Valley Hemps and Imports.
“It helps a lot. I think I get more support than someone from the city, because in a small town everyone knows each other. So it’s really nice to have that,” said Hall. “When I go into a store I always get like, ‘Hey man, good luck on your fight.’ and stuff like that, it’s motivating.”
“It doesn’t add pressure, it’s very motivating. I even have people talking about future possibility for sponsorships,” said Hall, who is an Osoyoos Indian Band member. “It’s just wow, thank you so much. For everybody, it’s like I’ve already won the fight. I already believe in myself because of this, a lot of people might break from the pressure but it’s motivating for me.”
Amanda Stewart, owner of the Valley Hemp and Imports in Penticton and Oliver, also trains in MMA and crossed paths with Hall through her coach. She decided her stores would sponsor Hall as he continues to progress in his competitions.
“(Athletes like him), their friends and family are also our customer. So it’s nice to see our advertising dollars go in that direction,” said Stewart.
Now at his next fight, he’ll be wearing the Valley Hemp and Imports brand, which will serve as a reminder that his community is behind him.
Hall recently participated in a meet and greet with his championship belt at the store’s two locations. He and Stewart believe it’s a good way to meet his supporters and showcase a small town athlete.
Hall just accepted the head coach position with Penticton’s Pacific Top Team for muay thai, a type of MMA, and said that he’s excited to coach but won’t lose focus on his own career.
“It’s a great opportunity, for him and the community. I’m excited because now he’ll be coaching one of my sons,” said Stewart.
For now, Hall said he’s just keeping up his training and reflecting on his successes. Hall has been training since he was 13 years old after he was approached by Clarence Louie, Chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band, to take part in a fight in the U.S. Ever since he has been hooked on the adrenaline rush he gets from the fighting, except for the break he took from competing when he attended post-secondary at UBCO in Kelowna.
“I was upgrading and while I was in Kelowna, I realized I was getting lots of training while I was there,” said Hall. “I stopped fighting to go to school and when I was finished at UBCO, I had to go to Okanagan College in Penticton.”
Hall said he didn’t receive the same kind of training attending school in Penticton and decided to hold off on actually competing until he moved back to Kelowna in 2017. This paid off as he reflected on his performance record for 2018.
“I’m undefeated this year, so it’s been a good year,” laughed Hall. “I took five years off and just said, ‘You know what, I’m just gonna bite down and there’s nothing to it but to do it.”
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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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