Credit: FG/BD

Hype Man: Interview With Cameron Hughes, Professional Crowd Igniter

Canadian Cameron Hughes works as a professional crowd igniter, paid by sports teams to attend their games and energise fans. Since 1994, he has been hyping up crowds at over 1,500 sporting events, including two olympic games, five NBA finals, three Stanley Cup finals, the US Tennis Open, and the Laver Cup, where he witnessed the last professional game of Roger Federer. Sports stars such as Novak Djokovic and personalities like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have danced with him, following his iconic moves.

After performing at a match in Prague, Cameron visited Brno to enjoy the match between the Czech Republic and Switzerland at the Betano Hockey Games, the last match before the upcoming World Cup. At the Winning Group Arena, Brno Daily had the opportunity to sit down with Cameron and talk about his career.

BD: You were in Prague yesterday and in Brno today. How many times have you been here in the Czech Republic? And how many countries have you performed in overall?

Cameron: This is my third time in the Czech Republic. I’ve been based in Prague but I’ve travelled around the country to Pardubice, Liberec, Plzeň and Brno. I’ve performed in ten countries… Czech Republic is the tenth!

BD: How would you describe the Czech crowds?

Cameron: Everyone told me they are a little more reserved as individuals. However, as a crowd, they cheer more here when the game is on, compared to North American sports, where they may cheer a little louder during the breaks. But here I love the fact that they are a bit more proactive and they are engaged and they don’t wait and everyone is a part of it, it’s amazing. They are very crowd friendly.

Credit: FG/BD

BD: You said once during a TedTalk that “the cheer you give is the cheer you get.” How do you deal with people’s energy when you perform?

Cameron: You are not trying to get anyone to match your energy, you are just trying to be a spark for people to have a little bit more fun, to laugh, to connect more. They didn’t bring me here because Czech fans needed me to cheer harder. It is more about trying to do something different, to allow fans to express themselves even more, you know, like to let go, see something they have never seen, which is my crazy dancing. And KB and I align because we have the same values and morals, they wanna cheer on their customers and audiences, and I love to cheer on people, more than the team.

BD: Given that your approach to sports is rather joyful and friendly to everyone, do you feel committed to the team you are cheering for?

Cameron: At the heart of everything I do is people. No matter what team you are cheering for, it is for people to let go more, to allow themselves to express more. I can’t tell you how many games, whether it’s at the Olympics, over 24 games, for example Latvia vs Sweden, doesn’t matter, it is still entertainment, let them have fun. 

Of course, the more you go to a city, the more you know the community, the players, the team… You care, because you get to have that connection, right? So, I’ve performed in Las Vegas 70 times… 70! So after a while you have an extra emotional attachment to a city. but it has never been about what’s on the back of the jersey, it’s about putting a jersey on and letting go, and being part of something bigger than all of us. I have done some of the biggest events in the world and it is everyone coming together for something bigger than us. Doesn’t matter who, no one is bigger than anyone else here. I am just a goofy guy who wants people around to have fun. That’s all that matters.

Credit: FG/BD

BD: What is your all-time favourite team?

Cameron: Senators. Ottawa, that’s where I started 30 years ago.

BD: Do you have a special connection with hockey? Is it your favourite sport to watch?

Cameron: It’s my favourite sport to watch, yeah, for sure. And that’s why, when I became part of this campaign (KB), I wanted to understand why Czech fans are so passionate. What is it about, because they love hockey and I love hockey. That’s why my first meeting with KB Bank was about: why do Czech people cheer? Why do they care? And it was fascinating.  

BD: Do you follow the Czech league?

Cameron: I did when I came here last October. I went to a Sparta game, just for fun, and then they brought me back and I performed at a Sparta game, so I started to follow the league because I understood a little bit more and I understood where the cities where, so you know, you meet your fans and you know what’s going on, and I follow it as much as you can from North America.

BD: Do you have any comments on the local scene?

Cameron: I think they did a good job with the fan experience overall. I think they are, like I said, very proactive. North American teams have a lot to learn from Czech teams. We wait for something in North America, whereas in Czech they don’t wait for anything, they are way more assertive.

Credit: FG/BD

BD: What would you advise to fans who want to make a difference for their team and fellow supporters in the crowd?

Cameron: I had a guy who messaged me the other day on Instagram. He said he goes to a lot of games and that fans don’t always want him there, but he loves it and he really likes doing it. You gotta keep on doing it, but you gotta watch for the right time because fans need to own the game, it is their moment. And there are times when the team needs to be pushed, like “hey come on, the team needs you right now!”. So I always say to people “put yourself out there and the crowd will cheer you on”, and it’s the same if a fan wants to get it going, just watch out for the right time.

BD: Are you planning to come back sometime?

Cameron: I will hopefully be back here a lot more.


With this, Cameron returned to enjoy the match, though unfortunately for the Moravian public, the match ended with a 1:2 score in favour of the Swiss.

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