“Big boys don’t cry.” How often isn’t that heard? Especially on sports discussion panels, invariably when talking about one team beating another. But if the global pandemic and all the attendant lockdowns and enforced social isolation has highlighted one thing, it’s that humans are social by nature … and frail.
Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters are known to be tough blighters. They can knock 10 kinds of nonsense out of each other with fists and knees, kicks, punches and throws. They’ll be bloodied and bruised in the ring but will invariably shrug it off, almost as insignificant or a minor irritation. Yet in July, one man received praise the world over for using his post-victory interview to highlight the need for men to talk about their feelings.
Tough Liverpudlian Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett who is being likened to legend Conor McGregor, was obviously emotional when he made a plea to men to start talking. About their feelings, their fears, their financial and relationship worries, feelings of not coping with life in general.
The nuggety UFC fighter said he’d woken at 4am on the day of his latest fight at London’s O2 arena to the terrible news that one of his friends back home had taken his own life. This was just five hours before Pimblett was due to weigh in ahead of his bout.
“So Ricky lad, that’s for you,” the fighter said in the post-match interview. He went on to say: “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 killing yourself, please speak to someone. Speak to anyone,” Pimblett pleaded in an emotional video which went viral, notching up millions of views within hours.
It might sound trite and hackneyed, but it really is OK to not be OK. Open up and let someone – a friend, lover, family member, work colleague or an uninvolved third party like a therapist or counsellor know what you are dealing with and how you feel.
Organisations like the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (www.sadag.org) have a 24 hour helpline available – 0800 456 789. They are there to assist without judgement. Call them.