Eddie Hall on Accepting Defeat, Dealing with Trolls and Catching Covid a Week Before Thor Fight

·10-min read

People think they know Eddie Hall. They know him from strongman; they know him from boxing; they’ve seen him acting up online. But the person they know is Hall’s larger than life alter-ego, The Beast, who’s unleashed whenever there’s a strongman event to be won or a boxing event to promote.

Recently, though, Hall’s been spending more time as himself. The most obvious reason for that is he’s recovering – both mentally and physically – from losing the ‘World’s Strongest Fight’ to his long-time rival Hafþór ‘Thor’ Björnsson. But that’s not the only reason. Hall is also recovering from losing his health to Covid-19 and from losing his best friend to suicide.

For now, The Beast is on the back foot, and it’s Eddie Hall that Men’s Health is talking to today. He’s much calmer, and much more considered, than the man who was hurling abuse (and received a fair bit too) at Björnsson in the lead up to their fight.

He’s had time to think and reflect, and, two-months on, this is what he makes of the fight now. As he says, he offers no excuses, only facts.

Men's Health: So almost two months on from the World's Strongest Fight, how are you feeling about the fight now?

Eddie Hall: I think it's been a great life lesson. Getting in the ring with someone and settling your differences is something most people should try in their life. People have disputes, get stressed, go to court and all that shite, but I honestly think just get in the ring and settle your differences that way. It’s a spectacular way to do it. Ultimately, when you're in the fight, and after the fight, all you can do is respect the other man because it takes massive bollocks to get into a ring and go toe-to-toe. For me, it was a great way to bury the hatchet and just let go of all the frustrations.

Obviously, losing the fight is hard to take, but I think losing is a big part of life. I didn't win World Strongest Man first time around. You've got to take those losses, learn, go away, recoup and come back bigger and stronger. Sometimes, losses are better than the wins, because they really do shape you, and who likes somebody that wins everything? Look at Floyd Mayweather. You've got to lose at something, and it's how you act in defeat where you see a person's true character.

You've had two months to sit with it, live with it and grow from it. But in the immediate aftermath of the fight, how did you feel?

Obviously, I got a lot of shit online, as any fighter that loses a fight does. Look at Dillian Whyte now, he's getting loads of shite online. It's a hard thing to take, and you've got to have thick skin in this game, but it really did make me think about the old Caroline Flack story and all the shit that she got online. Ultimately, she took her own life through mental health struggles. This ‘be kind’ bollocks that everyone keeps portraying, these are the same people that are coming on and trolling, and literally [I had] people attacking my kids, my wife, me. There's just so many nasty people out there and for me it was just wow. I've experienced hate all throughout my career, but I've never seen anything like it with boxing. Never in my life. It's fucking torturous. I just had to sit on my hands and be humble in defeat. There's no point shouting back and getting at anyone. It's cooled down now, but fuck me it was a tough couple of weeks. Anytime I put something up on social media, it was absolute attack, attack, attack. 1000s of comments just coming on: ‘you're shit’, ‘your kids a fat little fuck’, ‘your missus is ugly’. Honestly, you have a look through, it's fucking horrendous.

Were you surprised by that? Because all you did was have a fight.

Yeah, I was, mate. Obviously one of us had to lose the fight. It's inevitable. It was never going to be a draw. I just think losing such a big thing like that it's tough. But losing a fight in such a huge public domain is even tougher. Losing a fight in such a huge public domain and getting all the shit that comes with it is even tougher than that. So I guess it was just a bit of a shock really. It really did make me realise what horrible people there are out there, and it made me realise how important the things around me are, such as family. At the end of the day, people can say what they want, they can do what they want, they can troll, but the only thing that matters is my wife and kids, and that's it. During that period, I just thought fuck it. I stayed off my social media, and I just spent loads of time with my wife and kids, and they just took the distraction away and made me feel better. It's a hard thing to go through, but I had the right people around me.

Going into the fight were you fully fit?

I can come out with every excuse in the book. I can tell you facts, but I'm not going to tell you excuses. The facts are I got Covid the week before I flew out for the fight. My coach wanted to pull me out, but obviously it’s the second time around, so I can't pull out. Again, I don't want this to be portrayed as an excuse, this is just a fact. And I don't know if you noticed during the fight, but I couldn't use my left arm because I'd pulled my bicep again. I ripped my bicep off six-months prior, and in the lead up it just kept pulling and pulling and pulling. In the end I just decided, I can't use my left arm, it's going to tear off again. So I basically had to fight Thor with one arm. Again, that is just a fact. End of the day, the better man won. I came in as best as I possibly could have done, under the circumstances and I gave my best. I'm not going to sit here and say I lost because of x, y and z. I lost. The harsh reality of life is you've got to take things like a man, and I am.

Some people were less than complimentary about your unorthodox boxing style, which is explained by your injury. Was that hurtful when people were mocking how you boxed?

No, not really. End of the day, I did the best I could under the circumstances, and I just couldn't do any better on the night. It's as simple as that. People can take the piss, but I'd like to see them get in the ring with a 6ft10, 150 kilo guy and see what they can do because I guarantee they'll be on the back in 10 seconds flat.

Do you regret some of the confrontations you had with Thor in the run up to the fight?

Yeah, I do. Yeah, of course I do. So many eyes are on the fight, and obviously the promoter's always in my ear to kick off at his gym, and I was like, do I have to? You've obviously got to sell the fight, so I rock up at his gym on my own, things get heated, things get said. If I could go back in time, I wouldn't do those things, and I wouldn't say those things. I just feel like it was just too much, and it doesn't set a good example for the younger generation. So yeah, if I could go back in time and do it all again, I'd be Mr Nice Guy. Looking back now, I wish I acted differently.

You and Thor have a long-running feud that’s lasted for years. How did it feel to be in the ring with him? Was it cathartic or …?

It was a thrill. Obviously, there's a lot of built-up tension over the years, and in the weeks leading up, there's a lot of things that were said and done that really wound each other up, so just being in the ring with him was an absolute thrill. I really did enjoy the experience. It felt very surreal. That was the first ever time I've actually been in a crowded, attended boxing match. Having that crowd there chanting my name and all the support I had was amazing. So yeah, it was a hell of an experience.

How do you feel about Thor now?

I suppose he's just someone I've got to let be. All that's been said and done has been said and done. No one's going to change his opinion. Even if I won the fight that's not going to change, so I’ve just got to let it go. Let him go. It's not healthy for either of us. We've both said it, and we're just going to move on now. If I see Thor it'll just be whatever. He's just going to be another guy to me. We're not going to be best buds. But I think the respect is there now. We got in the ring and did business, toe-to-toe, and you can't help but have respect for your opponent for doing that. I think getting in the ring and burying the hatchet so to say, it's probably one of the best things that we've done, and it makes it possible for us to both move on.

Do you have his name tattooed on you? Why did you go through with that?

On my foot, yeah. It's nearly worn out. That's why I had it on my foot because I knew it would wear off pretty quick. You can't even make it out anymore. Another two months and that will be gone. Completely.

Did you do that to get a rematch?

Yeah, all the talk before was about putting money to charity and that whoever lost had to get a tattoo for the rematch, so I just got it done. I'm a man of my word. Everything that had been said and done before, I thought I best just get it done and we can move on. Then if there is a rematch there, we'll get it on. I don't want that lingering over my head. It's like when do you pull that rematch clause? Do I keep pestering him or does he keep pestering me to get the tattoo, and I thought I'm not going to give him any ammunition. I'll get the tattoo done and then the rematch clause is on him. It's up to him now to pull the trigger.

So you want that rematch?

I do want the rematch yeah. I think I do.

The World’s Strongest Audiobook by Eddie ‘The Beast’ Hall is out now (W. F. Howes). Listen by visiting Audible or Google Play.

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