The Daily Telegraph
Tom Hardy throws the competition with martial arts cameo
TOM HARDY might be Britain’s favourite Hollywood hard man, but it turns out he is a tough guy in real life too.
The actor’s stunt doubles may have to look for new work after the star turned up at a Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament being held in a school gym in Milton Keynes and grappled his way to gold.
Having signed up under his real first name, Edward, he surprised onlookers when he arrived in a blue gi to take part.
Hardy has played some of the most dangerous characters in film, both fictional and real, including British criminal Charles Bronson, American mobster Al Capone and anti-hero Max Rockatansky in Mad Max, and he looked the part with his outfit falling open to reveal a toned physique and intricate tattoos.
Once on the mat, Hardy was as ruthless as the hardened criminals he so often portrays. Andy Leatherland, his vanquished opponent in the final, said the actor was silent during their bout.
“Lining up, he was very focused. The intensity that he brought to his movie roles, he brought that. He didn’t say a word,” said Mr Leatherland.
“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 it was over relatively quickly.”
After the fight, however, Hardy, 45, revealed his nerves. “Afterwards, he was absolutely sound,” Mr Leatherland said. “He said to me, ‘these things are nerve-wracking’. And though he’s often on the screen, he said jiu-jitsu is real and nerve-wracking to do.”
Not all of Hardy’s opponents were quite so cool. The man he defeated in the semi-final admitted to being flustered by facing the performer.
“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.”
Perhaps they should not have been surprised. Five years ago, Hardy, a resident of Richmond, south-west London, chased a thief over walls, through a garden and a building site before collaring him and handing him over to the police, proudly declaring, “I caught the ----”.
‘Everyone knows who Tom Hardy is, don’t they? I was shell-shocked. He said, “just forget it’s me”’
The organisers of the tournament had known that Hardy was going to attend for a fortnight before the competition, but had kept the fact secret to protect the actor from distraction.
“We found out he was coming probably a couple of weeks before,” Sean Rosborough, the event’s sponsor, told the Daily Mail. “But the organisers kept it to themselves – and didn’t want masses of people turning up distracting him from what he was doing.
“He was brilliant. A lot of people were asking for photos, and coming up to him, and he had no problem with that at all. The mums were all over him. It didn’t bother him.
“And when he was fighting, he was focused on what he was doing. He’s amazing at jiu-jitsu.”