Wigan born Tom Aspinall is now the Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion and before the fight he received a number of messages from the rugby league community such as from former Wigan Warriors boss and current England coach Shaun Wane.
But in an interview with MMA Orbit, Aspinall revealed the “wild” and “emotional” impact that Leigh Leopards owner Derek Beaumont had on him before the big fight which saw him claim the title.
He said: “I am so lucky to have so many great messages and I got a lot of fighters that I look up to and a lot of celebrities that I look up to and all that, but to be honest but this is going to sound wild and you will have no idea what this is but the area that I am from we have like a rugby team here and there’s a guy who owns the rugby team called Derek Beaumont and the team is called Leigh Leopards.
“He sent me a message and honestly, he is not that high profile guy, he is not a major celebrity but the message he sent me was one of the most powerful messages I have ever seen and he said, I am getting choked up thinking about it, but he said that I have got everything, I have got the speed, the power, the grit, the determination and the one thing I didn’t have was an opportunity and I got my opportunity and I took it and it paid off.”
This led to a lovely tribute from former Hull FC, Hull KR and Wakefield Trinity halfback as well as Talksport, Sky Sports and Channel 4 pundit Paul Cooke to Beaumont who shared the video with the following caption:
“Hearing this tells you everything about Derek Beaumont. It’s only from this Tom Aspinall interview we know how much Derek’s video & words meant to Tom Aspinall before his fight last Saturday. I love this video & love knowing Derek, his words & support of Tom is Derek all over!”
Beaumont will be plotting a big year for the Leigh Leopards in Super League in 2024 having returned from New York to watch the fight.