GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Saturday night could not have gone any better for UFC fighter Jamahal Hill.
He TKO’d Klidson Abreau in the first round of a Las Vegas fight.
“With us being the first major sport back (from coronavirus stoppages), that’s huge,” Hill said. “And then to have it turn out the way it did, that’s perfect.”
Then he heard what was happening in his hometown of Grand Rapids. What started as a peaceful protest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis devolved into an hourslong riot that damaged 100 buildings downtown and several police cruisers.
“It’s heartbreaking the thing that had to happen just to start a conversation for one, but the destruction and the damage and things like that, I don’t want to see nobody lose their livelihoods or lose money, take food out of people’s mouths and things like that,” Hill said, “So that, for me, was hard, especially on a night like the night I had.”
Hill, who is black, says slurs have been aimed at him and he’s experienced other forms of racism, too.
“I was out in Vegas, me and another fighter … we got to the stop light and this lady was standing with her husband. She looked back, she saw me and she let his hand go and switched over to the other side,” he described.
He has shared his opinions on law enforcement’s use of force on social media, and said he hopes he can be a voice for change.
“I want to change lives, not just for myself and my family, but for other people,” he said. “I feel like it’s not just my part, but it’s everybody’s part. If you see something that is not correct, you should say something.”
Three days after his big win, he was back in the gym training. The UFC told him to stay ready.
“I just want to do the best that I can and make … the best life for myself, my people, my team. Whatever way I can help leave this world a better place than I found it, that’s what I want to do,” he said.