Fionn Healy-Magwa looking to put stamp on amateur career with IMMAF championship gold

The year 2017 has been good to Fionn Healy-Magwa (6-2 amateur). After an iffy 2016, fight game motivations can naturally slip aside. For the SBG Dublin representative, motivation remained intact and goals were ever present.

As the year nears its end, Healy-Magwa believes he’s a much different competitor through the hardships of battle and with professional aims in the next calendar year, the boost of having a three-fight win streak brings plenty of confidence toward the next chapter.

“It’s been good to get back to winning ways,” Fionn told. “At the start of my amateur career I had a nice little win streak put together, so it was nice to return to that. Toward the end of 2016 I went through a rough patch with a few losses back to back. In some ways, you need that reality check that you can’t take your foot off the gas because it’s very real in there. It’s taught me to learn from it and be more aware of certain things, so I’m only getting better.

“At the same time, however, I never lost sight of the big goal and always had the idea in my head that I am going to go pro and win something big. I’ve been heavily focused on my goals on track and things are swaying in my favour right now, so it’s been a nice boost.”

With the aforementioned win streak intact, Fionn received the chance to compete in the yearly IMMAF competition in Bahrain – if he could make it through the qualifying rounds. Whilst making it through the qualifying stages at a rather untimely moment, Fionn’s mindset grew exponentially, only making him more confident heading into the world championships.

“You have to see yourself as number one in my view,” the middleweight asserted. “There’s no point going after it if you’re not going for the gold each time you’re in there. We’ve a strong belief in ourselves at SBG. We’re always confident going into fights because you have to be. There are twenty-nine guys in my IMMAF bracket and, the way I see it, the number one guy is here right now and that’s me.

“Some of my teammates have entered the IMMAFs in the past, but for me it was a decision I made at the end of 2016. I just really wanted to look at what I could do with my amateur career in terms of remaining fights and inevitably going pro. I made the decision to go for the world championships now before I turn professional, get a gold medal and then take the next step.

“Once I’d made that decision, I kept grounded, kept my head down and worked to get here while waiting for the trials to come around in September. My family and I had a trip booked to Zimbabwe in August, which could have made it tricky. It was a mad one, being able to get some training in out there. We had the date set for the trip, but the IMMAF qualifying rounds were still not finalised. Luckily, they managed to book it literally the week I was back.

“You can’t control everything, but that was fortunate. Nevertheless, I felt ready. For three or four weeks of being there I ran, skipped, swam and shadow boxed every day. I even managed to get some jiu jitsu rounds in with a random guy I met on the street who happened to be a black belt in judo. I did what everything I could and it was a great lesson to learn as to how much of this game is about keeping your mind sharp. After arriving home I got settled, had the qualifying fight and got the spot on the Irish team.”

Fionn’s journey through mixed martial is a poetic one. In 2015, whilst working and studying in Liverpool, Healy-Magwa made the brash decision to leave work and follow his goal of making something of himself in the world of MMA.

Just over two years of waiting patiently and working vigorously for his opportunity, Fionn now finds himself on Bahrain soil to take on the best amateurs from around the world, cementing his footprint on amateur competition.

“Taking the leap to do this was risky,” Fionn stated. “Now having reached the IMMAFs through my gamble only confirms my beliefs that I was right to give it a go. I’ve never questioned whether or not I made the right decision. I studied physiotherapy in Liverpool and got a job there, working away for a year.

“My heart wasn’t in the job and I could feel this dream of doing MMA was slipping away while I worked the 9-to-5. Once I packed that in, I had two fights under The MMA Academy in Liverpool. Once I came back home, I committed to SBG in Dublin, got back into the sport fully and it’s the best choice I’ve ever made.

“I’m going from level to level, working to where I want to be and having while doing it and that’s the most important part for me. Now, I’m happier than I ever was compared to when I was working sixty hours a week.

“I’m infinitely happier,” beamed the eight-fight veteran. “I wake up in the morning and I can’t wait to go to the gym, I can’t wait to work in this life. I go to bed every night thinking that I’m really living my dream and that means more to me than anything. It makes going to Bahrain all that much sweeter.”

There’s no bones about it that combat sports tournaments can take a lot out of its competitors – whether it be in one night or in the format of several days. Being in an environment such as SBG Dublin however, with the accolades such a facility has obtained, as well as having many teammates previously competing in the IMMAF, you don’t have to look far for advice and help in seeking preparation.

“Preparing for a tournament is no easy feat and is one I’ve picked the brains of many about,” Fionn revealed. “Especially when discussing with my main partner Sam Slater. There are many ways to approach it, but ultimately you have to take each fight for what it is. If you’re wandering around, worrying about potential fights down the line rather than what’s in front of you, you’re gonna be out of the tournament quickly.

“You can’t worry about other fighters, getting injured or who you might be up against next. You have to win the fight that’s in front of you and follow your strategy. I’ve not paid much attention to names and am not worrying about it. I’ve been discussing with nutritionists and getting my team together to figure out the best routes for recovery and I believe we have a strong plan set in motion.

“There’s twenty-nine guys there and one gold medal and I trust myself enough to know that on that podium, with gold, will be me. I’m turning professional in 2018, so this will be me putting a stamp on my amateur career.

“I really want to thank every who supported my GoFundMe campaign in order to get me out here. Raising £2,000 in a short space of times blew me away as well as my sponsors BAIN clothing and ROS Nutrition and a special thank you to The Penguin Takeaway in New Ross and The Jar Pub for their support and of course my family and friends for supporting me.”