Nagpur’s runaway MMA fighter Vyas ready to take MFN 8 by storm | More sports News

NAGPUR: Indian Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Kushal Vyas, who hails from Koradi village in Nagpur, is set to face Rahul Thapa in the 8th edition of Matrix Fight Night (MFN) at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi on Friday. Ahead of the major bout against a strong opponent, Kushal opened up on his journey into the competitive world of MMA and how he had to run away from home at the age of 12 to pursue his passion for combat sports.
While the opportunities to pursue sports in his village were far and few, Kushal, who was studying at the Seventh-Day Adventist Higher Secondary School, in Nagpur, was introduced to boxing at another school in his village.
“In my village, there was no interest in sports. The belief was that one should study, get a job and earn a living. At that time, I found out about Bhonsala Military School, where sports enthusiasts were allowed to play sports free of cost,” Kushal recalled.
“I was really attracted to the boxing ring. I went in just for the boxing trials and I did not even realize when it grew into a passion,” he said.
Hailing from a religious Brahmin family, Kushal had a hard time convincing parents to allow him to pursue his passion for combat sports. Seeing his opportunity elsewhere, he ran away from home at the age of 12 to Mumbai in 2007.
In the city of dreams, Kushal started working in hotels to earn a living. “I would get Rs500-600 per month as salary,” Kushal said.
Kushal started training and competing at the Mumbai District Boxing Association in Shivaji Park and grew into a national-level boxer. After 7 years of being away from his family and hometown, Kushal visited Nagpur and decided to call his parents.
“They had the same landline number they had before. They had not changed it because they believed one day I would call. I found out later that missing reports had been filed for me for many years across multiple newspapers and police stations,” Kushal said.
“I have become a national-level boxer. I don’t know why I felt I had to call, but I just felt I had to,” Kushal said.
The distance between Kushal and his family, in the time lost, had grown and he acknowledges that he still rarely visits his home now (only once in two years) and still continues to live in Mumbai.
Now, at the age of 29, Kushal has earned numerous plaudits to his name. He became the Submission Wrestling National Champion in 2015 and is a silver medalist at the South Asian Grappling Championships. He has also been the two-time National Kickboxing champion and two-time state-level Sambo Champion. He has earned a purple belt in Ju-Jitsu while training at Paulo Silva’s gym in Brazil, and has represented India in World Boxing Series in China, and in the Brave Combat Federation twice in Bahrain.
Kushal believes that there are tremendous fighters across India, but the lack of awareness about the sport is not allowing them to come out in the open.
“I have seen the MMA gyms in Nagpur city. Most of the trainers there have never competed in MMA. Some trainers are giving Karate lessons in the name of MMA. It is a waste of time. The fighters are wasting their money,” Kushal said.
“To spread sports in Nagpur villages, we have to spread awareness. Even today, if I roam around wearing my MMA trunks, villagers say that ‘I am an adult wearing ripped underwear’. People don’t have much knowledge. If we provide constant opportunities for fighters and a chance for them to earn money through their craft, then the villagers will also realize that there is a good scope in combat sports,” he signed off.

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