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Powered By People - Liam Hand

Community 3 min read

28 Sep 2021

From Crumlin in Dublin, 19 year old Liam Hand has his sights set on a dream. One that has taken sacrifice, dedication and the support from the community around him. Liam is an MMA fighter who has dedicated this stage of his life to being the best he can be for one reason, so he can provide a better life for his family.

To help him get to where he is today, Liam turned to his local credit union, who are supporting him on his journey. We sat down with Liam to hear his story and find out how he’s been Powered By People.

Liam started off by telling us how his MMA journey began, “Before I started MMA I did K1 kickboxing & Muay Thai for 4 years. My decision to switch to MMA funnily enough came while I was living & training in Holland in January 2020. My coach in Dublin, Paddy Holohan had just released his biography “Hooligan”.

My Mam came to visit me for a weekend in Holland and she brought the book over to me. I started reading the book on the Monday in the hostel I was living in and I just couldn’t put it down. I was totally intrigued and it inspired me to start MMA”.

After switching from kickboxing to MMA, Liam had his sights set on becoming a champion, “I think it was something that was just inside of me. I love all sports and have tried my hand at most of them. I am very competitive, but the 1st time I saw this sport it just clicked with me that’s what I wanted to do. I want to be able to financially support my family, friends and those that supported me on my journey. This dream will be reality. This is my career both its risks and its rewards”.
Liam knows the journey to being a champion isn’t always plain sailing as he discusses the sacrifices he’s had to make to get to where he is today, “Sacrifices are the hardest part of following your dream. It can be a lonely existence at times but I want to provide a better life for my family. I have missed countless family weddings, birthdays, parties and even my Debs. Cutting weight, early nights and even earlier morning training in the cold and rain.

Leading up to a fight the excitement grows as does the hard work and training. Fight camp can be hard and exhausting and I push myself even harder. At the end of the day I am the one who will enter the cage and I need to know I have given my all. I push my body to the limit every day and disciplined in what I can eat. I try not to lose focus and for this reason I surround myself with the right people. I don’t regret it for a single moment because I know it will be worth it”.

Training at a high level for a sport such as MMA takes extreme dedication. We asked Liam to describe a typical training day, and we have to say, we’re tired just reading it. “I train twice a day 5/6 days a week. I am up at 5.30am for the gym to alternate between jiu-jitsu classes a run or a sea swim, then it’s straight to work from 8am-4.30pm. I work in a warehouse, which mainly involves heavy manual labour & lifting heavy boxes (it’s my gym away from the gym, you could say). From work I cycle straight back to the SBG24 gym.

I get home around 8.30/9pm and have dinner, shower and bed. I like to read and watch fight coverage. During fight camp which is usually about 8 weeks it can be even more gruelling as you can’t lose focus, not even for 1 day. Trying to balance all can be tough but positive energy helps keep you driven and I need to remind myself that I am doing this for a better future”.  
As with everything, the community around Liam has been a mainstay from day one, “Crumlin is a very close community, everyone knows everyone. When I have a fight coming up everyone I meet is wishing me well or sending me support on social media if they can’t be there in person. When I was picked to be part of Team Ireland I was overwhelmed with messages of congratulations and best wishes.

My team SBG24 is the best ever. I am privileged and honoured to be part of such a team I call family. Many fighters are good friends outside of training, we often travel around the country and the world to support each other and even sometimes corner each other on fight night. It takes courage to step into the Octagon but knowing all the respect and support I have from my community, team, family, friends and sponsors makes it all worthwhile and I will continue to make them proud”.
Liam’s Credit Union, Health Services Staffs, is a huge part of his community and he talks us through just how much their support has impact his career so far, “The impact the HSSCU has had on my career so far is phenomenal. The Generous sponsorship from the HSSCU has made it possible for myself & my coach to travel to championships and Training camps across Europe. During lockdown where travel, sport, gyms etc were forced to close the sponsorship from the HSSCU was used to purchase a boxing bag, frame & grappling mats, which were used by me to train in my back garden. This kept my dream alive.

Now thankfully as we see things return to some normality I made the Irish MMA team and I have been selected to represent Ireland in Prague at the World Cup in September. Once again the HSSCU have stepped in to cover all my expenses including flights, accommodation tracksuit etc. The main challenge for any amateur sportsperson is the financial expense, so from the bottom of my heart I want to thank the HSSCU for their sponsorship, support and their Faith in me. I will continue to work hard, stay focused and continue to do you proud”.
As a young sports star with a huge future ahead of him, we asked Liam for his piece of advice for anyone who has a dream like he does, “I would advise anyone to follow their heart and never quit. Everyone has their very tough days where you feel like giving up.

Keep your head down, stay focused and stay positive, that’s the way to go forward. Everyone wants to win, whether it is at sport, your job or in life then you have to put in the hard work and make sacrifices. Learn to enjoy the sweat, the pain the losses and the wins. Embrace the challenges and learn from mistakes. Believe in yourself and stay true to yourself and always remember ….. if you can’t dream big then what’s the point in dreaming at all”.

Liam's story has been told as part of our #PoweredByPeople series – a campaign which celebrates tales of community support – and highlights exactly what the credit union stands for: people helping people. If you’d like to get involved and tell your story, we’d be more than happy to hear it. Simply get in touch by contacting Jane at jdaly@creditunion.ie.