Mixed Martial Arts, along with a plethora of other sports in Pakistan, has joined the table of being the budding sport in the country. It is the combination of various combat sports, borrowing techniques from boxing, judo, karate, wrestling, etc. Founded by Bashir Ahmed in 2007, Mixed Martial Arts Pakistan or PAK MMA, is the organization responsible for the promotion of this sport in this cricket-loving nation. The organization also focuses on students’ training, promotional events, and sponsoring fighters.
The reasons for bringing Martial Arts to Pakistan were simple; to create awareness, to raise the issue of self-defense, and to have a fair chance of Pakistan’s representation on an International forum.
It is always a delight to see Pakistanis making their way to global news and becoming the source of their country’s pride. Recently, Pakistan’s Mixed Martial Arts fighter, Mehmosh Raza, has been blessed by a stunning victory against Scotland’s Calum Murrie in a featherweight bout. But this was not the first time he made it to the international scoop. He has also won the title of Aspera Fighting Championship Asia against Adonis Sevilleno, a Filipino fighter.
Recently, we got a chance to sit with Mehmosh Raza to have an insight into his aspirations, experiences, and the reason for him being part of this sport.
Being subjected to racial bullying in Ireland because of his Pakistani heritage and in Pakistan because of his not-so-perfect Urdu speaking skills, Mehmosh’s career was basically driven by these notions of him being a misfit in his childhood. He started his journey with martial arts at the age of 19, when he was first introduced to Fight Fortress through a friend. “I came to know about the fight, taking place at the roof”, he says. “Despite having no prior experience, I still signed up for the fight and ended up joining the gym the very next day. From that day on, I have never looked back.”
Mehmosh is of the view that athletes in Pakistan are confronted with more challenges in sports as compared to the ones in other countries because they have been practicing sports ever since they were kids. “In order to catch up with them, we need to work twice as many times as they do”, he says. “But this not what I think about. Everyone has got talent, its all about how much work you put in and your victory is the result of your hard work. I always focus on my performance, as advised by my coach also, and leave the rest to Allah.”
We raised the sensitive subject when we mentioned his equation with his competitors to which he responded with sheer humility. “Before the fight, it’s all about playing mind games with your opponent in order to know him, but after the fight, the opponent is literally exposed and revealed in front of you with all his attributes”, he says. “At the end of the day, one should remember, that our opponent has also come forward to pursue his dreams, the same dreams which we also possess. I respect my opponents because they’ve got the same dreams that I have.”
Being part of a sport such as martial arts isn’t always very easy for the family of a person. It involves some scruples about the dangers and risks which this sport entails. Mehmosh, while telling us about his family’s reaction to his career choice says, “It took my family by surprise. I didn’t tell them about this until my amateur fight when I broke my hand, and ultimately had to tell them.” He adds, “I still have got some reservations from my parents, but it’s all about my passion. I have to achieve what I had dreamt of by turning a deaf ear to what people are saying.”
Mehmosh’s fastest submission record of 27 seconds in Brave CF was the big win for him which caught him flat-footed as well. Relating this to his fighting style, he says, “My fighting style is western and fortunately, my coach also employs the same style, which further helps me to polish my skill.” He further adds, “There are many fighters in Pakistan, but we lack awareness. Our nation is a huge cricket fan, which makes it difficult for other sports to fit in the picture. The dearth of coverage is what deprives the sport of its due acknowledgment.”
Martial arts are said to be very effective for physical fitness in general terms. Mehmosh is also of the view that the employment of martial arts in routine exercises can be very beneficial for the human body. “I would recommend learning this to everyone, regardless of their gender, physique, and age, because this is the best thing to transform their body. For fitness purposes, it follows the completely different training routine, where different techniques are used for the purpose of making all the body muscles work.”
It is generally said that your nickname says a lot about you and there are many sportspersons in the world who have clutched fame through their nicknames. Mehmosh also goes by the nickname “Renegade” which was given to him by his coach, Ehtisham Kareem. “My father was a doctor, and obviously, I was expected to be one as well, but I chose a totally different career. Renegade means the one who deserts the set principles, and due to this aberrant nature of mine, I was named ‘Renegade’ by my coach.”
Along with many other problems in the country, there has always been a need of directing the government’s attention to their responsibility regarding the growth of the sports industry in Pakistan. With Mehmosh, we also talked about the government’s role in the promotion of different sports and his concerns regarding this matter, “Though promotion and acknowledgment are important, one should never think about sports in these terms. We have chosen this ourselves and that’s all that matters”, comes the aspiring response.
So, what’s in store for Mehmosh over the next years? “I am willing to work on my previous mistakes and learn from them. I have a lot to learn and a long way to go.”
Meeting with Mehmosh gave us a clear-cut insight into many things one sportsman should possess; the love for sports, humility, composed personality, and a riveting interest in one’s profession. There is certainly more to Mehmosh’s calm demeanor which proposes a promising future ahead of him.