Jermal Woolridge revealed a personal insight into what drives hearing-impaired athletes was a key factor in his headline success at Fight Night XVI.
The Bermudian won his kickboxing contest with Canada’s Joey Brozovich, who is deaf, in front of a home crowd at Berkeley Institute on Saturday night.
A good game plan and an ability to stay “in the zone” enabled Woolridge to outsmart his bigger opponent in the top-of-the-bill bout.
However, as he recovered from his night’s exertions — he saw a doctor yesterday to assess a pulled muscle in his shoulder — Woolridge told the Bermuda Sun his experience
and friendship with similarly hearing-impaired people meant he knew how fired up Brozovich would be.
“I had a little secret that I didn’t even tell my trainers about up until the night of the fight,” he said.
“And that is for years I’ve worked security with a good friend of mine who is deaf and my mother also practises and taught me sign language, so I have actually interacted with people who are hearing impaired since I was a little boy.
“So I actually know their mentality and drive to always prove themselves and always push and be better, more intelligent than the average person because of their disability.
“I had that in mind going into the fight and the training sessions and just put that into my strategy. A couple of times when the bell went he was still throwing techniques.
“That was just another test for me to keep my calm, stay relaxed and do my work.
“I understood some of the sign language coming out of their corner. Just being a fighter you could tell what they were saying as well.
“I spoke to him afterwards and I gave him props because it’s not easy being handicapped like that and trying to do this sport.”
Woolridge dropped his opponent twice and was always in control on his way to a points victory.
He says his almost zen-like focus was a crucial component of his win.
“I had to stay calm and get in the zone early and stay there and not fall off.
“That’s actually been one of my issues the past couple of fights, falling in and out of the zone, where I’ve had fights in the bag and just completely messed them up.” He added: “One of my cousins actually came up [on my way to the ring] and asked how I felt and I just completely tuned him out!”
Now it’s back to martial arts and wushu for Woolridge, who will compete in the Pan American Wushu Games in Costa Rica and then the prestigious Wushu World Cup (the top four in the world) in Indonesia later in the year.
Woolridge would like to thank the following: BSA, Forty Rego’s Gym; JB Custom Designs; RG Grant and Headrush; Comeback Calisthenics; Bermuda Blue Printing; Docksiders; Bonefish; Bermuda Squash Racquets Association; Sunglass & Watch Shop; Bermuda Gas; Juice & Beans; Fitness Pro.