Mixed Martial Arts, popularly known as MMA is still a sport that is unheard of in our society. Only a few bunches of people really know about the sport. Society is still alien to this sport and talking about this sport few years was like bringing the moon to the earth.
Siddharth Singh, the founder of India’s top MMA schools – Crosstrain Fight Club took a bold step to learn this sport and now he is making best efforts to popularise this sport in India. Siddharth started his career with boxing idolising Mike Tyson, soon as he grew he learnt various other sports and ended up being a professional in MMA. He is a graded Muay Thai instructor, a national level boxer and 2015 Indian open submission wrestling champion.
He being a priest and expert of this sport is taking every possible step to make this sport go viral in India so that everyone in the society comes to know about this sport.
Yesterday, he in collaboration with Reebok organised an event in South Delhi at Select City walk and gave his master class to the starters followed by some action packed performance from the professional fighters.
We caught up with him in that event and had a candid chat with him where he answered to our questions regarding the game, its growth and about its future.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Q. Tell me about your journey. What persuaded you to follow this sport as a career as we see children choosing cricket as a ‘Safe’ career?
Sid – I don’t think people are following MMA from a career point of view; they are following it because they are passionate about the sport, they are passionate about what UFC is, they are passionate about what Reebok is doing with UFC, everyone has a preferred sport. So with MMA guys I have noticed is that they love watching UFC on T.V., they just love watching it. They gonna do it. I don’t think when you are you are passionate about something you care about money, you just follow it.
Q. What were the difficulties you faced at that time because MMA was something unheard in India? Can you elaborate that?
Sid – Yeah very difficult man. I started in Crosstrain in 2012 and nobody knew what MMA was but some people knew, so before actually coming back to India I did a lot of surfing online trying to figure out whether people know MMA and if they want to know MMA. After about 2 years of researching, I came back to India and started just because I wanted to see how many people were interested in business, thankfully we are still in business and people are still interested in it. It’s growing, lot more people know about MMA but as with everything man, as the knowledge is growing, people are becoming more aware.
Some people are also starting false centres. They do not have sanctioned trainers, anybody who sees this on TV is opening centres. For me, it’s important for people who are starting schools and academies to know what they are teaching because it’s a tough sport. If you don’t teach safely, then there are health and safety issues are as well.
Q. Who was your idol at that time when you started at the age of 12?
Sid – I started at the age of 12, I was a boxer man; I just wanted to do boxing. Tyson was my guy, Mike Tyson. Different idols at different stages. When I started Muay Thai then I wanted to be like Tyrone Spong and recently you know its Brazilian jiu-jitsu so you get Marcelo Garcia, Rickson Gracie. These were the ideals and role models that I had.
Q. So have you been able to find any Tyson in your training school till now?
Sid – We have around 15 professional fighters for now training .Most of these guys came in as absolute beginners but they have learnt the art and now they are fighting professionally. And also we have 30 armature fighters who have fought for Crosstrain. It’s a growing sport. You know it’s difficult to find a Tyson when the industry is still growing but when it gets the mainstream I am sure we will have some stand out names.
Q. Tell us some precautions which are to be taken during the fight?
Sid – We are following the international protocols for safety. We work with IMA, which is the governing body for the sports and we follow the same standards which are kept through all over the world, so for armature fights, we are wearing chin guards, MMA gloves, mouthpiece and all the safety equipment are there. We also have internationally recognised referee, so in case any fighter is in trouble, we stop the fight there and then. No one has to get hurt. We are trying to figure out who the best fighter is. No one has to be injured.
Q. Your views about the growth of the game in future in India?
Sid- I am very hopeful that this sport will grow. The sport is taking its time. Like with anything new to India, it takes a while to get in action, but I am pretty confident that with time, it will grow. It will take some time to get the attraction. The stuff that we are doing at the Crosstrain fight club, the stuff that Rebook is doing with UFC, I am pretty sure that the sport is gonna grow.
Q. And to conclude, what is your message to the youngsters that are taking up this sport?
Sid – It’s simple. Just get to the nearest MMA gym that you can find and figure out that they have the right trainers and start training. The centres should be good. This is the best thing you can do for your soul.