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Home / Articles / Arts & Entertainment / Celebrities /  A Young Man’s Quest to Keep His Eye On The Prize
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Wednesday, March 8,2023

A Young Man’s Quest to Keep His Eye On The Prize

By Liz Sterling  

It wasn’t a random day, it was my birthday. That was last December. I went to the beach to watch the sunrise and got quite a surprise. I spied a young man who was practicing some kind of martial art. He was captivating. There was a steadfastness to his posture, his movements were deliberate, and his concentration was palpable. I was wowed by this gift of bearing witness to such intense, deliberate and measured movements.


Most of you don’t know me except through my articles. I am the type of person who never lets an opportunityto engage something that is captivatingescape.And I would have to say, once I captured this sweet young kid’s attention, he was pretty much trapped. I didn’t let him go as I asked question after question, to further understand what was motivating him – at 21years old – to be so focused.

After probing him under the microscope of my curiosity, Kyle Hammel explained that he is an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) Amateur Champion Cage Fighter. As soon as I heard those words, my inherent biases came flooding to the surface. “Cage fighter,” I repeated, “you beat people up in a cage and others watch?”

“Yes,” he replied, “and they pay to watch it too.”

I took a big step back, examined my rising disgust, and then coached myself to come back to the moment. I thought there must be something here for me to learn. After all, it’s my birthday, and those are always special days. So rather than let my judgements and preconceived ideas about violence and fighting get the best of me, I intentionally stepped back into the conversation.

I discovered so much and was quite moved by the personal philosophy that Kyle lives by. He forced me to reckon with my own beliefs. It took a few months to gather my thoughts about this encounter, and present them in a way that I hope can benefit all of us. I expected some pushback from my publisher when I pitched the story, because I knew writing about fighting did not sound like a Happy Herald thing. I got a thumbs up right away, and that’s when I knew I really had an opportunity to leap into a new level of awareness and appreciation for how others live their lives.

I am asking you to move your beliefs about cage fighting aside (if the thought makes you cringe), so you can open your heart, and meet one of the most beautiful souls I have encountered in my lifetime.

That day on the beach, Kyle “Money” Hammel and I agreed to meet again, to hold the interview you are about to read. After I left the beach, I received another gift – a birthday rainbow across the sky.When life is full of new experiences and new understandings, we are indeed rewarded.

Kyle is a college student in Boca Raton. He told me it’s scary to feel alone and he struggles with anxiety. He channels that into his intensive regimen that he follows six days a week. It helps him immensely!“All the work I do pays dividends,” he shared,“and I strive to be one percent better each day. I am building my reputation in the MMA community which is based on the concept of Jujitsu, Wrestling, Kickboxing, Muay Thai and Boxing – all put together to form one art.” His goal is to become an Ultimate MMA Champion, with sponsorships and a large fan base. For now, he trains rigorously everyday while completing his studies as a Business Major at Lynn University. Kyle will remain on the amateur circuit for another year, as he builds his reputation through his successes.

“Each day I train,” he explains, “so if an opportunity to fight should arise, I am ready.I don’t train for an event, I train to train.Each day is the same.I have friends,” he told me, “and we share about our lives and the tough times we go through, but I don’t go out too much because my discipline is everything. When my alarm goes off, I jump out of bed and I make it right away. This way I have already accomplished something. I hydrate, train, prepare very healthy food, shower, go to class, swim, train again, cook my dinner, do schoolwork and go to bed.Every day, Monday through Saturday, I follow this schedule.

I give myself [time] off, usually on Sunday, which does calm things down, but also frees up my enthusiasm to get back to training.”

Hammel was a very energetic child, so his parents introduced him to karate. “That was it,” he told me, “I was born to be in this field.” His current coach is 80 years old and is even more flexible than he is. “I look up to my coach and I am learning more than just fighting. I have seen what it is to be humble, respected, knowledgeable, patient and understanding. I value all these qualities and l know he will guide me where I want to go.

I want to first be a good person and then a UFC Champion. That stands for Ultimate Fighting Championship. That is my goal. I have a mantra I say all the time. ‘I will never quit, and I am the best.’ Every day and every time I say that, it gives me strength. I use that in the cage. Believe me, it is no fun getting punched in the face or getting hurt, and that does happen. I popped my foot when I got caught in a footlock, and I had to trust I would heal, but had to give it a few weeks of rest. Injuries are part of the sport, and I just know I’ll heal, and then be better than ever.”

I learned so much from this young man!

He righted my thinking when he said that every time he goes into a fight, he is 100 percent confident, and he never ever lets doubt enter his mind.His set-point is dialed in to be a champ. He is on a mission to follow his bliss and keep his eye on the prize. Who am I to think that there’s something wrong with what he does? I may not want to go and watch him fight all the time, but I will on May 25 when Kyle Hammel uses every ounce of his determination to WIN! I’ll be rooting for him, and learning that happiness comes in many forms, shapes and sizes, and in some ways I didn’t understand before today.

If you would like to see Kyle Money Hammel in action, check this out.

Liz Sterling is a writer, coach, teacher, broadcaster, advice columnist and inspirational public speaker. Meet her at:


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