We are back with another ‘Get To Know’ article, and this week we have current Bellator Lightweight Charlie Leary.
Who is Charlie Leary?
Charlie Leary (16-11-1) is an English mixed martial artist and five-time British Champion who currently fights in the Lightweight division on one of the highest stages of them all, Bellator.
It was a long, grinding career for the Englishmen to the top. He made his professional debut in 2010 representing BAMMA. A successful two-fight winning streak for the promotion saw the start of his career kick-off. Leary then went on to build on his record, competing all over the country in the regional scene.
The best stint of Leary’s career came from 2015 to 2016, when winning five consecutive bouts back to back attracted some big promotions and a change of scenery. Leary had the interest of ‘Brave CF’, the largest mixed martial arts organisation in the Middle East. Brave gave Leary the opportunity to compete in unusual environments and experience a different culture of fighting. Not many athletes from England can tick off places such as Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Jordan.
In 2018, Charlie Leary signed for Bellator MMA. He made his official debut in a packed out SSE Arena in London, securing a second-round finish over fellow Englishman Tom Green. After some time off Leary returned to the Bellator cage, unfortunately, dropping a unanimous decision loss to Irishman Paul Redmond. Just four months later, he bounced back with a dominant performance over Scotland’s Chris Bungard, who was riding a four-fight winning streak at the time.
Let’s take a look and try to get to know Charlie Leary a bit better and his journey into the sport.
How did you get into MMA, and can you remember the first time you stepped into a gym and how you felt?
Leary – “I got into MMA because of my brother he brought one of the first UFCs on video. After watching that, I loved it. I spent a long time looking for gyms near me, when, finally, one day someone told me about David Lee training at a scout hut nearby. I was a little skeptical when I first went there, I didn’t think a UFC vet would really be there, but I was very happy when he was.”
What did you do as a job before turning professional and making a career in martial arts? Any stories in that aspect?
Leary – “I was working as a builder when I first started MMA, then, when I realised I wanted to take it seriously, I got a job working nights at a supermarket so I could train more. It was a horrible job, but I met some great people and it paid the bills while fighting didn’t. I finally started fighting full-time a couple years ago.”
Have you got any other hobbies outside Martial arts, what do you like to do in your time off to take your mind away from fighting?
Leary – “I haven’t really got any hobbies, but I’m very lucky to be able to spend lots of time with my wife and two children. Spending time with family is all I need to take my mind away from fighting.”
If you never had found MMA and stepped into the gym for the first time, where do you think you’d be right now?
Leary – “Before I started MMA I was playing semi-professional football and actually enjoyed working as a builder, so I would probably still be doing that.”
Did you have any combat sport inspiration/heroes growing up, and if so, who and why?
Leary – “Growing up I was really into football rather than combat sports but my brother was a very good amateur boxer, so I watched a lot of boxing and I loved watching Nigel Benn. His heart aggression and will to win was an inspiration.”
What does it mean to you to be a fighter, a lot of fighters would look at this question differently?
Leary – “To me, being a fighter means I can provide for my family while doing something I love.”
After fighting’s done, do you have any plans after that? Do you want to stay in the fight industry or step away?
Leary – “Once I retire from fighting I definitely want to stay in the sport. I really enjoy coaching but there are also some interesting options to me like management or even becoming a referee or judge.”
In 5 years’ time, where do you see yourself and what’s the end goal? To retire look back and be happy with what you’ve achieved?
Leary – “The way I feel right now, I think I could still be fighting in 5 years as long as I’m healthy, happy, and still able to perform and put on exciting fights, I’m gonna keep doing it. I’ve still got a few goals that I want to achieve before I retire, but that’s not the be-all and end-all. I am happy with what I have already achieved.”
Make sure you check out Charlie Leary’s social media to follow his career.
Also, be sure to check out the Overtime Heroics Forums page to join in on the discussion!