Tributes have poured in this Wednesday night following the sad passing of veteran mixed martial arts referee, Neil Hall. Releasing a public statement this evening, Hall’s family confirmed the passing amid a battle with complications stemming from the novel coronavirus.
Admitted to hospital in January of this year following surgery on his back last August, Hall, 55, contracted COVID-19 whilst admitted due to an infection at the site of his surgical procedure. In the statement released by Neil’s wife, Kath, she confirmed that the veteran official passed away following a three-week-long battle with the novel coronavirus.
“Sadly, Neil Hall passed away today,” Kath Hall’s statement read. “He had a back operation in August and picked up an infection in the surgery area which wasn’t found till late January. He went into hospital for intravenous antibiotics for a week then came home, unfortunately, it was with COVID(-19). He spent three weeks trying to fight COVID pneumonia but sadly he lost his fight today. Over the years, Neil has met many people from all over the world and has had lots of fantastic experiences. Today we had to say goodbye to him.“
A respected mixed martial arts referee, Hall had been a staple of the U.K. mixed martial arts scene, officiating Cage Warriors and UFC events to name a few.
In the wake of his passing, many prominent figures throughout the sport paid tribute to Hall and offered their condolences to his family.
Lead Cage Warriors play-by-play commentator, Brad Wharton described Hall as a “pioneer” and a “cornerstone of officiating“.
“The UKMMA scene has lost a pioneer and a cornerstone of officiating today,” Wharton wrote on his official Twitter. “Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of the incomparable Neil Hall. May he rest in peace.“
Mixed martial arts referee, Marc Goddard described Hall as a “gritty northerner who wore his heart on his sleeve“.
“Absolutely devastating news tonight that Neil Hall sadly passed away,” Goddard wrote. “Anyone who’s anyone in UKMMA will have known Neil. A tough as nails gritty Northerner who wore his heart on his sleeve & was just a bloody good bloke. A friend & colleague of 20-years. God bless you. RIP.“
Cage Warriors contender, Paddy Pimblett commented on the sad passing of Hall, who refereed his fights at both amateur and professional level, noting his shock at the official’s passing.
“This man (Neil Hall) reffed a lot of my early fights at amateur and pro, complete shock to hear of his passing. Rest in peace Neil Hall forever be a UKMMA legend.“
Cage Warriors president, Graham Boylan offered his condolences to Kath and Neil’s family.
“This is v (very) sad news. RIP Neil Hall, an MMA pioneer. Thoughts with Kath & family.“
Bellator lightweight contender and UFC alum, Paul ‘Redser’ Redmond described Hall as a “really nice guy” as he remembered the official who, like many fighters across the U.K. and Ireland had seen there fights officiated by him.
“Wow sorry to hear the passing of Neil Hall, reffed a couple of my fights and always had a laugh before & after competitions. Really nice guy. R.I.P“
Straight Blast Gym head coach, John Kavanagh described Hall as “an honourable referee with an eye for detail” as he remembered the veteran official.
“In shock to hear that referee Neil Hall passed away earlier today. An honourable referee with an eye for detail. Spent many a Saturday night post-show discussing fights gone by with him. #RIP brother.“