Trump travel ban delivers blow to Jamaican mixed martial artist
Local fighter Cleon Bardowell, who was expected to have his final mixed martial arts (MMA) bout in Iran before retirement, said that US president Donald Trump's immigration ban played a big part in the event being scrapped.
Bardowell, who will be 34 years old soon, is from Montego Bay and travels regularly to the United States to train. Having a stamp on his passport saying that he travelled to Iran, one of the countries banned by the Trump administration, would have prevented him returning to America.
"I was supposed to be in Iran, and I cancelled it because of the whole change in travel (because of Trump)," Bardowell told Star Sport.
"So I called Daniel (Chacko-Wilmot, Jamaica Mixed Martial Arts Federation president) and said 'Yow, should I go to Iran?' and he was like 'No, Cleon, I won't advise you to go,' so I canceled Iran."
In 2016, Bardowell had travelled to Russia for an FCF (Full Contact Fighting) World Championship title match with Shamil Yakubov. Despite his loss, Bardowell was able to network with an Iranian promoter who booked him for the bout in the Middle East. Now the promoter is looking to take other Jamaican fighters to the region.
"Hopefully, next year, if everything works out well, some of our guys will be there because they really wanted me there. The guy (promoter) from Iran was in Russia with me. He was in my corner because he speaks English and the Russian language as well. He translated for me. We're looking for big things coming up for this year and next year."
Bardowell was asked whether he still wants to retire.
"I'm still considering it," he said hesistantly. "I'm not that old, but I think I'm getting there."