The interesting name Chael, after first appearing in the U.S. baby name data in the early 2000s, rose to peak usage in 2013:
- 2015: 35 baby boys named Chael
- 2014: 60 baby boys named Chael
- 2013: 96 baby boys named Chael [peak]
- 2012: 61 baby boys named Chael
- 2011: 34 baby boys named Chael
What was the influence?
Mixed martial artist Chael Sonnen (pronounced CHAYL SUN-en; first name similar to “jail”), whose career lasted from the late 1990s to the late 2010s.
He was most famous during the early 2010s, when he was a top contender in two different UFC weight classes. Also during that time period, he cemented his reputation as one of MMA’s best trash-talkers.
Sonnen’s initial fight with Anderson Silva* for the UFC Middleweight Championship in August of 2010 was voted Fight of the Year at the annual World MMA awards. Ahead of their highly anticipated re-match in July of 2012, a Bleacher Report writer said:
Chael Sonnen is a name that seems to be on the tip of every MMA fans’ tongues these days. Whether you’re online or watching UFC televised programming, Sonnen’s name and face are everywhere.
(Later the same year, a poster at the MMA Underground forum asked, rather presciently: “Will Chael be the hot new boys name for 2013?“)
In April of 2013, Sonnen lost his third and final title bout, this time against Jon Jones in the Light Heavyweight division. But he did win MMA Personality of the Year in 2013 — ousting the usual recipient, Joe Rogan.
So how did Sonnen, who was born in Oregon in 1977, get the first name Chael? Here’s what he said during a Reddit AMA a few years ago:
My Mom took the name “Michael” and removed the “Mi”.
She also altered the pronunciation, of course.
What are your thoughts on the name Chael?
- Chael Sonnen – Wikipedia
- Muehlhausen, Steven. “10 Greatest Trash Talkers in MMA History.” Bleacher Report 30 Nov. 2012.
- Symes, Kyle. “UFC 148: Chael Sonnen’s 10 Defining Moments.” Bleacher Report 24 Jun. 2012
- World MMA Awards – Wikipedia
*Anderson Silva and Wanderlei Silva are both from Brazil, but they’re not related.