Tom Hardy surprised competitors in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, after he turned up to take part in a martial arts tournament held over the weekend.
The Hollywood star entered to compete in the 2022 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Open Championship, held at Oakgrove School, and he ended up as the outright winner in his section.
Hardy, known for his hardman roles in Mad Max, The Dark Knight Rises as well as blockbuster hits like Venom, is a high-level Blue Belt in Jiu-Jitsu.
The event was organised by Ultimate Martial Arts Championships, and their spokesman said the world-famous actor is “a really nice guy”.
“Everyone recognised him but he was very humble and was happy to take time out for people to take photographs with him. It was a real pleasure to have him compete at our event,” he added.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a self-defence martial art and combat sport which involves grappling, ground fighting and submission holds.
The aim is to take an opponent to the ground, control them and force them into submission using joint locks or chokeholds.
Andy Leatherland, a sales manager and blue belt, met the famed actor in the final of the competition and said he entered the local event after realising he might be there.
The 42-year-old said:
“I knew he fought in the last competition locally and won two golds, and I knew at that point that I fitted into his category – I was the same age, belt and weight as him.
“We used to joke that if he was to fight, I would be the one to fight him, but I didn’t think anything of it.
“I was contemplating the Milton Keynes tournament as it was very local. And then one morning – he goes by the name Edward Hardy – I saw that he’d actually signed up.”
The father-of-one was told the day before the competition that he would only fight Hardy if they came face to face in the final or the bronze level match.
“On the day, he won his first and second match, so I ended up meeting him in the final.
“Lining up, he was very focused. The intensity that he brought to his movie roles, he brought that. He didn’t say a word, he didn’t say anything.
“When it came to the match, you couldn’t help notice that it’s him, but then it just became a competition.
“I made a mistake and he capitalised on that. He absolutely nailed it, and he subbed me, and it was over relatively quickly.”
Mr Leatherland added that Hardy was “absolutely sound” when they chatted after the fight and that the action star even admitted that he found the martial arts competitions “nerve-wracking”.
Last month 45-year-old Hardy caused similar excitement when he turned up unannounced at the charity REORG Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Wolverhampton to raise money for military personnel and first responders dealing with mental and physical issues.
Similarly to his performance over the weekend, he made short work of the competition and won gold with an impressive arm bar.
His opponent said:
“I was waiting match-side for the semi-final when Tom showed up. I didn’t know he was going to be there – and they expected me to remain composed,” he laughed.
“I recognised him straight away. Everyone knows who Tom Hardy is, don’t they? I was shell-shocked. He said ‘just forget it’s me and do what you would normally do’.
“He’s a really strong guy…you wouldn’t think it with him being a celebrity.”
Hardy started to learn basic martial arts in 2011 while filming Warrior, in which he played a marine turned fighter. He has also trained in mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing.