Kandivali boy, a Mixed Martial Arts Champion, rues lack of recognition at home: DNA Article

Kandivali boy, a Mixed Martial Arts Champion, rues lack of recognition at home: DNA Article

Article dated 12 October 2015 from DNA India: http://www.dnaindia.com/locality/news-tags/chaitanya-gavali

Not your run of the mill fighter, Chaitanya Gavali, 26, has represented India in several international Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) tournaments – a form of martial arts popularised by the recent Bollywood movie Brothers. Gavali recently participated at the Warrior Championship held in Penang, Malaysia on September 2015 where he knocked down Gary Espinar of Ireland and bagged the Gold medal.

Mix Martial Arts is a unique combination of all martial arts. 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.

Struggle for sponsorship
Chaitanya, in the span of just five years has won four out of the five championships that he has participated in. Chaitanya’s next fight is scheduled for November 18 in China but his team is falling short of sponsorship.

“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.

Not meant for family business
Gavali holds a post graduation in Commerce and his family runs a shoe shop at Mathuradas Road in Kandivali (W). From being asked to join the family business to winning championship trophies abroad, his journey has been full of ups and downs.

“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,” shared Gavali.

Lack of recognition for the sport
MMA is not on the Olympic Sports List, another reason why the government has so far not recognised it as a sport. “Though the Olympics is cutting down on the number of sports to ensure that the tournament is manageable, the uproar MMA has caused worldwide is going to take it places. You need a lot mental strength for this sport. You fight on the streets for survival, whereas this sport is purely driven by passion,” explained Khare.

The team is currently struggling for finances to buy the expensive supplements needs and the training equipment. Gavali is hoping to get enough sponsorship so that he can take down opponents in China in November.

To sponsor Gavali or extend any kind of help, contact him at 9769440251

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