'Honourable' Leeds MMA referee Neil Hall tragically dies following Covid battle
An 'honourable' MMA referee, Neil Hall, from Leeds, has died following his battle with Covid pneumonia.
Neil's wife Kath Hall announced the sad news in a heartbreaking post on social media on Wednesday - as her and their son Dan said they had 'to say goodbye to him'.
According to Kath, 55-year-old Neil had had an operation on his back in August, and picked up an infection while in surgery which wasn't found until late January.
When the infection was found, Neil went into hospital for intravenous antibiotics for a week, until he came home 'unfortunately with Covid'.
The MMA referee spent three weeks trying to fight Covid pneumonia but tragically lost his battle on Wednesday.
Hall competed in several pro fights in MMA under the Pride and Glory and the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship promotions before embarking on a career as a referee.
He officiated 40 UFC fights from 2013 up until 2019.
Tributes to Neil have poured in on social media, including from fellow referees John Kavanagh and Marc Goddard.
Kavanagh tweeted: "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."
Goddard said the news about the 'tough as nails gritty northerner' was 'absolutely devastating'.
He tweeted: "Absolutely devastating news tonight that Neil Hall very sadly passed away.
"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"
On Thursday, Kath posted an update on social media which said her newsfeed had been 'full of Neil', and that it had been comforting for her and Dan to see.
She added that they have been asked about a GoFundMe page for covering funeral costs, but that they had covered this.
Instead, Kath and Dan encouraged people to make a donation to a charity of their choosing as this is the 'best way' as 'there are so many needing help'.
The pair thanked everyone for their support.
Kath and Dan's Facebook posts said: "Sadly, Neil Hall passed away today.
"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. 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 have to say goodbye to him.
"Kath and Dan. XX."
And: "My newsfeed is full of Neil and it is very comforting for us to see.
"We have been asked about a go fund me page to help with funeral costs but want you all to know that we have it covered but thank you.
"Anyone who does want to make a donation, can you please make one to a charity of your own choosing. There are so many needing help and we feel this is the best way.
"Thank you to everyone.
"Kath and Dan. XX"