The Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association featured fighter of the week is Team Ireland Cadet representative 14 year old Jamie Doyle of SBG Portarlington under Head Coach Philip Mulpeter.
Diagnosed at a young age with Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD and dyslexia Jamie had a difficult time at school interacting with other children. His shy and anxious nature made him a prime target for bullies who picked on him relentlessly and caused him to suffer from severe anxiety and panic attacks. In an attempt to arm his son with self defense techniques Jamie’s father enrolled him in TaeKwonDo classes as a young boy but Jamie soon lost interest in the sport and decided to quit. At age 11 his father tried again to introduce him to a martial art, this time enrolling him in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes at SBG Portarlington and Jamie recalls “I fell in love with the sport straight away, and not just the sport but the people. Everyone at SBG was so kind and welcoming, I felt at home right away and found it really easy to connect with everyone.”
Having found a gym he felt comfortable in Jamie soon branched out into the other classes available at the gym including kickboxing, MMA and strength and conditioning classes. Through the support of his coaches and teammates along with the feelings of accomplishment he gained from his continuous progression in each aspect of the sport Jamie’s confidence and self esteem levels rose immeasurably and his potential for a bright future in MMA was blatantly apparent. Recognizing Jamie’s determination to further develop his skillset Phillip invited him to participate in the adults classes as well as the teen classes and he began attending two training sessions per day, six days per week and stated “If the gym was open 7 days a week then I’d be there every day.”
In 2019 the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation held the first ever cadets MMA world championship for competitors aged 11-17 years old. After attending the Team Ireland squad training sessions in Cork and Dublin Jamie was selected by the Team Ireland coaches as a member of the Irish international cadet MMA team. Weighing 56kg and fighting in the 52.5kg category meant that he needed to lose weight gradually in the lead up to the event as fighters must sustain their weight throughout the duration of the tournament resulting in Jamie adhering to a calorie restricted diet throughout the Summer which he found incredibly difficult. In August 2019 he travelled to Rome for the Cadet world championships alongside his Team Ireland teammates including three other athletes from SBG Portarlington. Still slightly over the weight limit he needed to cut 1kg more on the day of his first preliminary fight, which he struggled to cut and felt very weak and exhausted from. His first fight of the tournament was against a proficient wrestler from the American Team before going on to fight an opponent from Team Australia. Although Jamie did not emerge victorious from these bouts he describes his experience competing at the IMMAF’s as an invaluable learning experience claiming “At the time I was devastated following the losses, mostly because I felt like I had let my team down. I was so weak from the weight cut that I felt I wasn’t able to demonstrate my full potential. Each of the other three competitors from my gym on the team had at least one win within the tournament so I felt like the weak link. Looking back now I realise what an amazing experience it was and how lucky I am to have been able to participate in such an incredible opportunity.”
Upon returning home from Rome Jamie’s family and friends gathered at his home to congratulate him on his performances and he recalls this as being a pivotal moment in his journey stating “I was so upset and disappointed after losing my fights so I wasn’t expecting such a positive reaction from the people around me. Seeing how proud my friends and family were of my achievement in representing my country really solidified my belief that I wanted to commit myself to becoming the greatest fighter I can possibly be. It’s easy to love the sport when you’re winning but it takes a true fighter to stay committed following a loss. In hindsight I’m actually glad I lost those fights because now people looking at my record are likely to underestimate me and doubt my abilities, and I can’t wait to prove them all wrong.”
Speaking of the ways in which MMA has benefitted his life Jamie claimed “Training has improved almost every aspect of my life especially my physical and mental well being. It has helped me to open up, communicate and connect with people, which was something I had struggled with previously. It’s given me a much more positive outlook on life and has made me a better person overall. I love the learning aspect of it all and the fact that you can never possibly know everything there is to know within the sport. I used to be a very anxious, nervous person but the confidence I have built from my training makes me feel like I don’t have a care in the world. Crowds were something I used to struggle with a lot whereas now I am excited at the idea of competing at arenas with large audiences.”
When asked if he feels nervous in the lead up to fights he answered “Absolutely everyone gets nervous before a competition, regardless of the type of sport or what level it is at. It’s perfectly normal and natural as long as you don’t allow it to consume you. My outlook is that you have to have a winning mindset. Whether you believe you are going to win or lose, you’re right.”
Jamie spoke very enthusiastically about some of the people who have helped and guided him throughout his MMA journey stating “My head coach Phil Mulpeter is everything I could ever want in a head coach. He is a really great guy who does so much for us all and has opened up so many opportunities for me. He is great at helping his students strive to reach their potential and he has never once doubted me. Alvina has been amazing from the start. She is such a kind, warm person and she really welcomed me in and helped me feel at ease within the gym. Phil’s brother Stuart has helped me progress and adjust in so many ways and Kyle Redmond who was my first BJJ coach really helped me to fall in love with the sport. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have some truly fantastic teammates to train alongside of. Dara Ward, Noah Kavanagh and I all coach the children’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes together on the weekends and we work together really well at helping each other along and encouraging one another to improve. Noah is my main training partner and I can’t give him enough credit for all the ways he has helped me. He has a great, positive attitude and never fails to lighten up a room. We’re constantly pushing each other to get better and will try to take each other’s heads off in training but we hug it out straight away after and we’re the best of friends again. I could go on all night listing all the great people in my gym and the ways they’ve helped me but honestly I can’t thank each and every one of them enough. The person I have grown to be today is because of them and the love, care and affection they have shown me.”
When questioned about his future plans Jamie said “In the long term I can definitely see myself as the champion of multiple weight divisions in the UFC. I’m very fortunate that I have found my passion in life and know that I want to make a career as a fighter at such a young age that time is on my side. After I retire from fighting I can see myself as an MMA coach but in the short term I’m looking to build up as much experience in each aspect of the sport as I possibly can. Phil is currently working on getting me matched for a K1 fight as soon as events can begin to run again. In the meantime I’m just enjoying my training and working on constantly improving my techniques and abilities. I cannot wait to show everyone how good I can be when the opportunity arises.”
The Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to Jamie for sharing his story with us and for his dedication and commitment to Irish MMA and Team Ireland. We are very proud of his achievements and have no doubt that he has a very bright future ahead of him within the sport. We look forward to following his journey as he continues to progress and grow as a proud Irish mixed martial artist.
Photo Credit to Sharon Coyne of Lenohe Photography.