Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett has been praised for his powerful speech on male mental health after his UFC victory last weekend, having managed to encourage a number of men to attend a support group for the first time ever.
As well as dedicating part of his win to Lee-Joshua Hodgson – a four-year-old boy who passed away after battling a rare form of cancer called metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma alveolar (ARMS), the 27-year-old MMA star also paid tribute to a close friend who had recently taken his own life.
He said: “I woke up on Friday morning at 4am to a message that one of my friends, back home, had [died]. This was five hours before my weigh-in. So Ricky lad, that's for you
"But, there's a stigma in this world that men can't talk. Listen, if you're a man and you've got weight on your shoulders, and you think the only way you can solve it is by [suicide], please speak to someone, speak to anyone.”
He added: “I know I'd rather my mate cry on my shoulder than go to his funeral next week.
"So, please, let's get rid of this stigma and men, start talking!"
After his message, Andy’s Man Club in West Yorkshire said it had seen a spike in the number of men attending.
Leeds and Castleford facilitator Andy Wilson told the Yorkshire Evening Post that many people came down for the first time after Pimblett’s speech.
He said: "Across both of the Leeds and Castleford groups we have 69 (10 new) and 39 (9 new) who attended respectively.
"It just shows how much the groups are needed and how more and more men are talking if they're struggling.
"The interview with Paddy Pimblett following his fight at the weekend can only have helped raise awareness on how important is for people to open up and talk if they're struggling with anything and a reminder once again that it's okay to talk.”
Mental health consultant Pete White also agreed that Pimblett’s speech was a ‘brilliant example of pattern interrupt’, telling the outlet: "People were expecting Paddy to give the usual post-fight victory speech, but he delivered an incredibly powerful and vulnerable message about mental health.
"This, along with a professional fighter, someone we often view as 'tough' and not concerned with mental health concerns, made people sit up and listen.
"We need more people doing this from all parts of society - vulnerability empowers."
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