Hyderabad: Mohammed Mahboob Khan was just 20-years old when he became the first Indian to win a gold medal in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) in 2018. The resident of Hyderabad Khan trained under many senior fighters. After winning gold for India, he has been seeking help from authorities for better infrastructure so that he can practice.

Mahboob worked as a salesboy and a driver for seven years to meet his family's needs. "I wished to be an MMA fighter when I met my coach at an interschool championship event in 2014. My guru, Sheikh Khalid, asked me to join him and train under him. When he saw me kicking well, he told me about IMMAF World Championship. I was so eager to train under him. Due to my financial difficulties my coach bore all the expenses for national and international tournaments," Khan told NewsMeter.

In 2018, Khan made the country proud by winning gold in the IMMAF World Championship in junior men's strawweight category against Ebrahim Darwish of Bahrain. Later, in 2019, he had to withdraw from a championship because of his weight which was 52.3 kgs. As per the norms it had to be 52 kgs. Khan, however, wasn't disappointed and trained even harder for the upcoming tournaments in 2021-22.

Speaking to NewsMeter, Sheikh Khalid, the head coach of Telangana Association of MMA, said Khan was very "energetic" during training and he would switch from offensive to defensive and defensive to offensive quickly which was good as his opponents would not be able to see through his moves thus helping him put up a deadly attack. "We let Khan practice with senior fighters of our team so that he could be like an iron fist in a velvet glove," said Mr. Khalid.

"Just after three years of training, Khan turned out to be exceptionally good. We approached the state sports organisation to seek sponsorship for Khan. In spite of winning gold for the country and being so good in the sport, the state and Central governments have not come forward to help us in any way. We have built a center in Hyderabad for such fighters and named it IFC (International Fighting Club)," he added.

Today MMA is one of the fastest-growing sports and while India has introduced the world to their best players in almost every sport, we're not being supported by any government, Khalid said. "I'm proud to say that I'm a coach of such a fighter who overcame every hurdle and brought glory to India," he added.

Madhu Sharma

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