The Stories They Tell 3

Matt Hamill

Born deaf on October 5, 1976, Matthew Stanley “Matt” Hamill’s love of wrestling would begin in high school, when his step-father, Loveland High School head wrestling coach, Michael Rich, introduced him to the sport. After a standout high school career, he went on to attend Purdue University for one year before transferring to RIT in 1996. While at RIT he was a three-time All-American, a three-time New York State Champion, and a three-time RIT Invitational Champion, with a career record of 89-3. In 1998, he was named the National Deaf Athlete of the Year, and during his senior year he went the entire season without a loss.

After graduating from RIT in 1999, Hamill went on to earn a silver medal in Greco-Roman Wrestling and a gold medal in Freestyle Wrestling at the 2001 Summer Deaflympics. He followed these victories with a highly successful mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting career with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), during which he had 13 wins and eight losses, including the distinction of being the only man to ever defeat two-time UFC champion Jon Jones. He retired from the UFC in 2013, but returned to MMA fighting in 2014, this time under contract with the World Series of Fighting, from which he retired twice, once in 2014, and again in 2015. He has since fought for various independent promotions around the world.

In 2011, Hamill was immortalized in the biographical film “The Hammer,” which covered his early life and college wrestling career, and was filmed in and around Rochester and RIT. The film starred Russell Harvard, a deaf actor best known for his role in 2007’s “There Will Be Blood,” and premiered in RIT’s Clark Gym—the site of many of Hamill’s wrestling bouts—on January 30, 2012.

Matt Hamill
Matt Hamill in Uniform
Matt Hamill MMA Victory
Matt Hamill Sports Card (Front)
Matt Hamill Sports Card (Reverse)
Matt Hamill Victory
Matt Hamill with Ring
Poster from “The Hammer”