Asia Fears Him But India’s First MMA Superstar Struggles For Recognition, Funds: Indiatimes Article

Asia Fears Him But India’s First MMA Superstar Struggles For Recognition, Funds: Indiatimes Article

This is an article from Indiatimes dated October 17, 2015

Oh the horror’s of being an athlete in this country – if you are not playing BCCI recognised cricket!

Sad are the cases of thousands of willing, capable, hardworking and talented men and women who have to either abandon their sporting dreams midway or just never be competitive enough at the international level due to lack of funds and facilities.

One latest example of the same is India’s only gold medallist MMA champion Chaitanya Gavali.

If you are wondering what MMA stands for – it’s Mixed Martial Arts. A form of Cage fighting which Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fans may recognise. Ever heard names like Spider Silva, Ken Shamrock (yes, the WWF guy) and Rounda Rousey? They belong to ‘the cage’. But if you haven’t heard of them, may be you saw the trailer for Akshay Kumar and Siddharth Malhotra’s Brothers – that’s MMA.

Sad are the cases of thousands of willing, capable, hardworking and talented men and women who have to either abandon their sporting dreams midway or just never be competitive enough at the international level due to lack of funds and facilities.

chaitanya-gavale - India

If you are wondering what MMA stands for – it’s Mixed Martial Arts. A form of Cage fighting which Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fans may recognise. Ever heard names like Spider Silva, Ken Shamrock (yes, the WWF guy) and Rounda Rousey? They belong to ‘the cage’. But if you haven’t heard of them, may be you saw the trailer for Akshay Kumar and Siddharth Malhotra’s Brothers – that’s MMA.

It’s a free fighting style where you combine various forms of striking and grappling with the goal to beat the sense out of your opponent. The real combat part of the sport has earned it millions of fans across the world and the prized fighters are huge celebrities.

The Champ Is Here

Coming back to Chaitanya, 26, who has won multiple MMA tournaments and even won the Gold at the latest Warrior Championship held in Penang, Malaysia in September. In last 5 years, he has won four out of the five championships that he has participated in.

But recognition evades him. His coach Jitendra Khare of the Evolution Combat Sports Academy, said, “MMA is a combination of all the martial art form. Unlike Judo, it has limited rules. The origin of this sport dates back to several centuries but it has not evolved much in India because it is perceived as ‘street fight’ and not a legitimate sport.” Khare started training the MMA athlete five years back in 2010.

Asia fears Chaitanya, India barely knows him

“You know what is funny? Athletes all across Asia fear Chaitanya whereas in India they don’t even know him. Awareness and acceptance will take time but we are hopeful that it will happen,” said Khare.

Chaitanya’s family runs a shoe shop in Kandivali, Mumbai but he doesn’t want to join the business. He want’s to fight more and put India’s name on the global MMA map.

“When my mother asked me to join the family business, I knew in my gut that I was not meant to do it. So I asked her to give me one year to prove my worth. Now that I have established myself internationally, she can’t stop bragging about me to her friends. She has saved all my videos in her phone which she shows every one she meets,” he tells.

 

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