I’ve recently started training in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and I have to admit, it’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. Most of the other kids in my training class are at least 6-8 years younger than I am and keeping up with them has been a task for me from day 1 of training. The unhealthy lifestyle from my early twenties is clearly the root cause of my current struggle to cope and I finally see why life is not just about drugs, sex and rock n’roll. Physical fitness becomes crucial as you grow older, it has never been clearer to me than it is now!
Getting fit makes you look and feel great, you become more self-confident and in my case, I feel unstoppable! Every time I go to class and see an 18 year old kicking ass, I feel the sudden sweltering urge to do 20 more roundhouse kicks in the hope of making up for the time lost getting drunk on endless nights, moping over a broken heart. I honestly regret not turning to fitness training sooner, getting fit is a great way to cope up with stress, anxiety, depression and all those heavy words people throw around so lightly these days. My lifestyle has subconsciously changed for the better. I have developed discipline in terms of my eating and sleeping routine, I feel physically and mentally stronger and more capable than I was before and the most exciting part is watching my body get ripped with each passing day! When I’m in training, I can constantly hear a ‘Fuck You I Won’t Do What You Tell Me’ playing in the background of my head. Haha! Tbh, Rage Against The Machine is a great band to listen to while working out!
Jokes aside, I wanted you to know about these really cool, super fit people with smouldering bodies who motivate me to train harder every day. Of course, they have some sick tattoos too so keep scrolling. Brace yourselves, bare chested sweaty men and super fit, badass women coming your way! Feast your eyes however, you must remember at all times that these guys are capable of beating the living lights outta you, so tread carefully.
Shibashish Banerjee (28, Kolkata, Muay Thai, Jui Jitsu, MMA)
‘Focus’ should’ve been his middle name! Please meet Shiba, a national Muay Thai gold medalist and champion, blue belt in BJJ and state & national kickboxing champion. He now owns and operates ‘Alpha Omega Combat Sports’ in Kolkata that just started a second branch in Kolkata on 09th Oct.
His dream is to build a world class team and to be forever young. With a badass neck tattoo that reads ‘Mad Dog’, Shiba is currently killing it with the new Alpha Omega branch. Fellow fighters in Cal, you now know where you gotta be! You can check out his website at http://www.alphaomegammakolkata.com
Khriemelie Metha (28, Dimapur, BJJ, Muay Thai, MMA)
Putting North-East India on the map is this lean-mean-machine from Dimapur, Khriemelie Metha, who owns and operates ‘The Combat Academy – Nagaland’, a specialised mixed martial arts gym in Dimapur. He grew up watching Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan kicking ass on TV. As a kid, he spent countless hours throwing fancy jumping kicks and beating up his share of imaginary thugs on his bed. He dropped out of college, lived in a gym, got better at kicking ass and eventually shifted back home to Nagaland and started The Combat Academy where he started training an amazing stable of homegrown fighters, dying to prove themselves.
He is also one of the core team members responsible for starting ‘Yoddha Fighting Championship’ (YFC) which serves as a great and much needed platform for Indian MMA fighters to showcase their skills. He’s got 2 very cool tattoos, a mithun (the animal which is held in high regard in all Naga tribes) on his back and a traditional Sat Yant tattoo of a Hah Taew on his chest that he got the traditional way in Thailand. A ‘Hah Taew’ is basically 5 lines or the five row yantra which represents 5 yants or magical spells. This man is mysterious and how!
Samyukta Ramaswamy (31, Mumbai, Muay Thai)
Samyukta is a banker by the day and a fighter by night. She’s been working at a multinational bank for the last decade and has always been a fitness enthusiast. She’s a trained classical dancer and was heavily into sports, especially basket ball during her school and college days. She found her true calling when she met kickboxing. Muay Thai is basically Thai kickboxing and is referred to as the art of 8 limbs since it is characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees, shins and is associated with good physical preparation that makes a full-contact fighter very efficient. Sam took up the challenge and debuted at the National Muay Thai Federation Cup in 2016 and went on to winning the national champion title which she retained in 2017 too. Who’d have thought a national champ in May Thai would be responsible for business control at a bank? Times are really changing now!
Narayanan Haridas (37, Mumbai Shoto Ryu (Karate), Kickboxing)
Back in the day when some of y’all were glued to watching WWE on the telly, Narayanan Haridas was out there doing it! Awarded Best fighter by the Maharashtra Karate Federation at the National Karate Championship in 1999 and a district level champion in 1998 and 1999, he had to quit fighting in 2000 after a permanent injury to his vertebrae due to an accident. But hey, he didn’t quit training, he’s been shadow practicing since the injury to not lose touch! That’s the relentless fire that keeps a fighter going, once a fighter, always a fighter! He is now a banker by the day and a metalhead by the night. A passionate tattoo collector, he and I actually share our tattoo artist. We have been taking turns on our sleeve that’s currently work in progress with the rockstar of a tattoo artist, Kruti Andrade of The Flying Lotus Tattoo Studio (Mum & Goa). He has a total of 8 tattoos and his most recent one which is a fabulous dot work mandala on his inner left arm is my personal favourite. The inner arm is a really tricky spot to be getting inked and I remember seeing this guy sit through it like a boss. Like I said, once a fighter, always a fighter!
Sunny Khatri (23, Mumbai, MMA)
A former professional photographer at Bluefrog Mumbai, he shifted his focus from photography as a profession to Mixed Martial Arts in 2014 and his latest achievement would be winning against Malaysia at the recent Yoddha Fighting Championship for pro and semi pro MMA fighters that took place on 15th October 2017 in Mumbai.
He enjoyed his photography stint however, fighting to survive is what he prefers to do for a living. His dream is to expose the women of our country to self defence and combat arts. I cannot tell you how impressive this is coming from a man!
Aditi Sreevathsa (23, Bangalore, Aerial Skills, Spanish Web, Hoop, Trapeze, Pole & Yoga)
When this girl says ‘she’s hanging out’, she means it, quite literally! A double honours graduate in Media & Cultural studies from the University of Sussex, former photo editor of The Badger newspaper, part curator of The Brighton Festival (2015-16) and the current head of PR and content at The Humming Tree, Bangalore, this 23 year old has already garnered a bunch of feathers in her cap. To take things up a notch, this headstrong girl plans on opening her own circus studio in December 2017. Yep, that is in the next 2 months!
Her studio is almost ready and her dream is to open Bangalore to the world of circus, and be wholly invested in it. The future will see lots of performances, collaborations and avenues for growth in this field which should also affect access to related resources and equipment without digging a hole in your pocket.
Tai Moscovich (25, Pune, Krav Maga, Capoeira, MMA)
Prepare to be amazed and take a deep breath before you start reading about this handsome young man. Israeli by birth and a fighter at heart, his name was derived from the martial art form ‘Tai-Chi’. You know mama meant business when she names you after combat arts! After serving in the Israeli defence forces as a paratrooper, fighting real war zones in Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and jumping off a few planes, Tai moved to India and started working with an Israeli cosmetics company while teaching Krav Maga. He is responsible for training over 5000 women on self defence techniques and his biggest achievement so far has been when one of these women was attacked and the fact that she managed to fight back and defend herself. He is currently the youngest VP at BVG, which is India’s largest organisation for integrated services like emergency helplines, energy and waste management, etc. He also co-owns and operates a digital marketing and data analytical company called Katana Media Works. He has taken on the mission to positively impact people’s lives and his target is 1,50,000 people by the age of 35. What were you doing when you were 25?
P.S- He has a cute little butterfly tattoo on his back. This is probably how you make butterfly tattoos look badass I guess!
Chaitanya Gavali (28, Mumbai, MMA, BJJ)
Chaitanya has been training in martial arts for the last 10 years. He is the first and only Indian fighter to win 2 world champion titles at the Ultimate Beatdown, Malaysia (2015). He has this massive Hanuman tattoo on his chest that symbolises strength and he seems to be doing justice to it. Fun fact about the guy, Sunny Khatri and Khriemelie Metha were taught and mentored by him at one point. When you see Chaitanya, the first thought that crosses your mind will be ‘PUMP PUMP PUMP!!’ Haha!
He is extremely down to earth and comes bearing copious amounts of humility. He teaches MMA and fights for a living and his ultimate goal is to fight at the mecca of mixed martial arts, UFC! He wants to put India on the map there and open the UFC doors to upcoming Indian fighters. I am psyched just knowing that somebody’s planning a future for Indian MMA fighters. Keeping the faith now!