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  • A doctor who gets a kick out of fighting

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    Meet a doctor, who recently won an MMA bout at the Rampage Fighting Championship in Malaysia

    Twenty-five -year-old Kajal is an Ayurvedic medicine graduate from Mysuru. She is not someone you would associate with an argument, let alone a fight. In fact, last year she started going to a gym in the hope of putting on some weight, as she “was underweight”.

    But this December, she surprised everyone by taking part in the Rampage Fighting Championship, Malaysia. She was picked for an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) bout in the 56 kg flyweight category against a local girl. And, she won the 3-round contest in the 2nd round on a technical knock out. Her opponent had no reply to her relentless punches. That is a far cry from the general perception of Dr Kajal Naresh Kumar.

    Now, instead of mending bones and prescribing medicines, this doctor is keen to pursue her passion in the cage (the fighting arena of MMA bouts)

    Her relatives are trying to understand how Kajal, a budding doctor, transformed into a fierce fighter in a matter of months. She played tennis and was into skating, but fighting was not something her family ever associated her with. Nevertheless, they were rooting for her when she was throwing punches at her Malaysian opponent. The win was the icing on the cake.

    It all started when Kajal joined a gym in April 2016, where she was fascinated by those practising kick-boxing. She was hooked and joined kick-boxing classes in June. Her trainer, Samith Bhat, says, “She expressed an interest in learning kick-boxing. She is a sincere pupil and regular for classes. So, I asked her if she would like to compete.”

    Kajal’s first fight took place in the club in November 2016.

    Samith says, “When she took a few punches, she did not back off. She went right back into the fight and I knew she was a fighter in her heart.”

    The doctor won the bout. Later she participated in the National kick-boxing championship in Patna in December 2016, organised by the Kickboxing Federation of India. The event had over 1,500 participants — men and women — in various categories. Kajal won the gold in kick-boxing in the 56 kg category that had 10 participants.

    More contests followed and her first MMA bout was held in April 2017.

    But while her bouts were giving her a high, her family was getting uncomfortable seeing her return home with bruises.

    Anyone who has watched an MMA fight will understand that the only protection for fighters in this full-contact combat sport —that allows striking and grappling — is a pair of gloves.

    However, the family did not put hurdles in her path. In fact, the first time she lost a fight, her parents and siblings rallied around her.

    Samith says, “Kajal is good. She is now a member of Team Genesis, which I formed to participate in domestic bouts.” The sport has a huge following in the North-East. However, in India, MMA is a niche sport and is not officially recognised by the Government. Bouts are organised and overseen by enthusiasts and fans.

    As of now, the country has few fighters, but the number is growing. The size of the crowd is also increasing. The events are being covered by local television channels, which is helping popularise the sport and draw crowds to contests.

    However, this sport is not all about fighting. Suraj Shetty, who runs the Grounds Sports Fitness in Mangaluru, says, “People who come to me focus on fitness. Most are in the 25 to 35 age group. For such people, after a hard day’s work, it is a good stress-buster. Some women too joined my classes for fitness and realised some of the techniques can be employed for self-defence. Some companies have even organised classes for their employees — for fitness and self-defence.”

    Samith adds, “Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, kick-boxing and MMA come as a breath of fresh air for people who were put off by dumbbells, barbells and weight plates. It is also about correct posture. The age range in my classes is 15 to 40. Actually, one of my pupils is 41.”

    Kajal is eyeing the ultimate prize — participation in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which is one of the most high-profile contact sports events, thanks to the real fighting.

    Her inspiration is fellow fighter and Team Genesis member Basavesh — a 25-year-old, who a clinical psychologist in Mysuru. He started much before Kajal and is now a veteran of several bouts and contests. The young man is among those aiming for the UFC too.

    So next time, you visit a hospital or travel by a BMTC bus, you might be tempted to take a closer look at the body and posture of a doctor or the conductor. People like Kajal make you wonder if there is a fighter underneath every uniform.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Life & Style / by Dhiraj Shetty / January 10st, 2018

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