Fighter Series: Hyder Amil – Sanabul Skip to content
Fighter Series: Hyder Amil

Fighter Series: Hyder Amil

Hyder Amil is an mma fighter, currently undefeated in the UFC featherweight division (145lbs). Known for his relentless pressure, hard-hitting power, suffocating grappling abilities, and his never-give-up spirit and heart, Hyder is a force to be reckoned with for every 145er in the UFC. If you know what Hyder has experienced and endured in his life, you wouldn’t question why he has a mind of steel and abilities to match.

Hyder was born in Cebu City, Philippines – an area that was defined by its poverty. Many children didn’t own clothing and those who did only had worn-out pieces. Hyder and his family stood out from others in their area. He and his sister were the only ones of mixed ethnicity (their father was of Indian Malay descent). They also lived in a solid house, whereas the others in their area lived in stilt huts. As a young kid looking to socialize with others, Hyder was often excluded due to his lighter skin tone and Muslim faith. As a result, he was targeted by the other kids instead of being included/welcomed, which led to confrontations instead of friendships. One example of the discrimination he faced can be seen when the other threw rocks at him, just for being different

Unfortunately, Hyder’s situation at home wasn’t very different. His father was very abusive toward Hyder and his mother. From age 3 to 6, Hyder endured this frequent abuse because his father thought that showing him affection would negatively affect his masculinity. Since he believed that showing Hyder affection of any kind would impact his masculinity, Hyder’s father didn’t allow his mother to show him affection.

With very few people to turn to for emotional relief, Hyder found support in his pet rabbit: Buster Bunny. He says that Buster Bunny was his only source of unconditional love during this period of his life. This was taken away from him when his father sold his pet to their neighbors for gambling money. Feeling an extreme sense of betrayal and anger, Hyder now had even fewer sources of comfort to support him through the chaotic situations at home and outside with the other kids.

After years of being abused, Hyder, his mother, and his sister moved to the US. Along with many other family members, Hyder and his family stayed in his grandparents’ home (at one time, there were 15 people in this three bedroom home) in San Rafael/Marin County, CA. 

Once again, Hyder felt isolated. In a new and unfamiliar environment, being of mixed descent, and without a strong father figure to support and help him find his way, he felt like there was nobody who could understand the struggles he was going through. During his childhood, Hyder lived in different areas throughout the Bay Area (Vallejo, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Richmond), often moving between family members and friends' homes. 

Despite the frequently changing and difficult circumstances they faced, Hyder says that the resilient and hardworking nature of his Filipino family helped them to advance in life. Out of everyone in his family, Hyder admits that he was the only one to consistently get into trouble in school and with the law – mostly for fighting and other younger male activities. 

Around the age of 10, one of Hyder’s friends introduced him to American kickboxing, karate, and Kung Fu. Inspired by how good his buddy was, Hyder decided that he could give martial arts a try. While this was a good reason to start training, it wasn’t one of the main drivers, it was more of an example of the abilities that could be developed.

After facing relentless bullying in the Philippines and in America, Hyder saw that he could develop his martial arts skills to protect himself and his family. As the only male in his immediate family, Hyder felt a very strong need to learn how to protect his two sisters and his mother. Later on, a different friend introduced Hyder to football and he met someone on the team who introduced him to wrestling. With experience training in different disciplines of martial arts, Hyder had his first MMA fight at the age of 17.

Looking back on his childhood and reflecting on how it shaped his life, he says, “[i]t fascinated me how each neighborhood had its own demographic mix, yet I still stood out. This visibility often made me a target, but as I matured, I embraced my uniqueness and learned to adapt. I honed the skill of winning people over, becoming someone everyone could relate to. Utilizing my talent for drawing, I offered sharpie tattoos and cartoons for people that made them laugh and I found different ways to be accepted in every community. So yeah, I was still different, but I was able to forge friendships across diverse groups, earning widespread support and loyalty.

My upbringing among varied communities not only enhanced my social skills but also made me a more well-rounded individual. The diverse populations I interacted with have been instrumental in shaping me; without their influence, I can't imagine who I'd be today. Each person, from every walk of life, has contributed to my journey. Consequently, when I fight, I represent the Bay Area — a testament to the people who've molded and challenged me, fostering the person I've become.”

We asked Hyder a few more questions. His responses are too great to even try to summarize, as we think you should read them for yourselves in their unedited entirety:

In the Guardian Gym Origins video on youtube (link can be found at the end of this article), you say that you were bullied by others as a kid. How did these rough experiences shape you into the person you are today?

I remember a time when other kids threw rocks at me when we were still in the Philippines. Upon arriving in the States, my sense of otherness didn't fade, and I faced relentless bullying. The anger within me, simmering from continuous mistreatment, reached its boiling point. I grew tired of being the target, which propelled me to stand up for myself and push back against the bullies. In doing so, I discovered a strength and a natural aptitude for defending myself. The moment I chose to fight back in the U.S., I experienced an immediate shift in power dynamics. This decision to defend myself not only provided a release for my pent-up frustration but also marked the beginning of reclaiming my dignity and self-respect.

What advice would you give to parents of a bullied child or the bullied child themself? How can they change the situation they are in, for the better?

Empower your children, but also keep it real with them about the realities of the world—not everyone has good intentions. Some individuals might attempt to harm or intimidate them without any apparent reason. However, the true control lies within how they respond to these challenges. Encouraging your kids not to surrender their power to bullies is crucial. Instead, they should learn to empower themselves, making choices that protect their well-being in any given situation. Training in mixed martial arts not only equips a child with self-defense techniques but also fosters a sense of confidence. This newfound confidence can deter bullies, as it projects strength. If confronted with a situation where they have no alternative but to defend themselves, remind them that standing up to a bully is a victory in itself, regardless of the outcome. Through self-defense, they assert their worth and resilience, embodying the true essence of victory.

Why was martial arts so appealing to you?  What keeps you coming back to the gym everyday to train and fight as hard as you do?

Fighting gives me purpose and meaning because of everything it brings to me. It's constant progression of making myself a better fighter and person. The fight itself; there is no higher high. Another main driver for me are all the people I represent from my family, my friends, the people in the Bay Area and the Philippines- I want to make them proud and represent them well. To inspire others that they can do it too, and pave the way for the Bay Area fighters and Filipino fighters.

It is evident from the Guardian Gym video that you have incredible belief in yourself as a person and as a fighter (and for good reason!) - how did you develop such a strong mindset and how do you maintain it? 

Throughout my life, I've been constantly told  that I couldn't achieve this or excel in that. However, whenever I set my mind on something and dedicated myself to it, I found success. This journey taught me that I am capable, both physically and mentally. The resilience and determination I possess today stem from the mindset my mother instilled in me: to be tough, to persevere, to act with integrity, to maintain humility, and to live without fear.

How does your martial arts training translate to your day-to-day life? 

It makes me conscious of how I treat my body, mind and others. It has made me a more balanced and healthier person overall.

From a hard life in a third world slum to living in America with many kinds of different people, Hyder is a great representative for both the Philippines and the Bay Area. He proves that you can succeed no matter what you have experienced and regardless of where you come from, if you work hard and focus your mental and physical efforts on your goal. Currently, Hyder is training for an upcoming fight in the UFC. On a normal day, he trains, works with clients, trains again, works with more clients or coaches class at the gym, then finishes with another training session. The results of his tremendous work ethic can be seen in the way he fights and in the results of his performances.

We want to give a special thank you to Guardian Gym for making this Fighter Series possible. 

Guardian Gym is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports worldwide youth with training and gear at zero cost to students and their families, as a gateway to mentorship, fitness + self-defense, community, and a better life path. They are committed to providing free youth jiu jitsu scholarships to underprivileged children around the world. 

“We are dedicated to offering children year-round stability and consistency through our programs, focusing not just on their physical transformation, but also on fostering positive friendships, mentorship opportunities, and a secure environment during challenging times. By partnering with established and trustworthy academies, donors can trust that a minimum of 85% of their contributions directly fund the scholarships they support.”

Check them out at the links below: 

Guardian Gym instagram

Guardian Gym youtube channel

Guardian Gym Origins (youtube) - Hyder Amil