By Saad Ghauri
Pakistan is soon going to join the rest of the world in being enthralled with the sport of MMA. The sport has managed to become one of the fastest growing sports in the world. It is still growing and will become even bigger than where it is now. Academies in Pakistan have noticed the interest in this sport and they are starting MMA classes. While boxing has failed to reach the professional level in Pakistan MMA has a much more chance of success here due to its nature. MMA will also get a push in Pakistan due to the release of the Indian movie Lahore.
The interest growing in Pakistan is understandable. Pakistanis have been interested in fighting sports. Wrestling was very popular here but when it became apparent that is was fake the interest has dwindled out among the people who want something real. MMA can give this to the people because nothing about MMA is made up. There are no stupid storylines. There are no rehearsed moves where the fighters themselves get into the chokes and moves and throw themselves around just to put up a good show. MMA replaces this with real rivalries and brutally real moves. Mixed martial art fights are not about being entertained but are instead about winning and surviving.
MMA can benefit very much from the legendary history of Kushti and Boxing in Pakistan. Pakistan has had some absolutely phenomenal people in Kushti, like the Great Gama who remained undefeated all 50 years of his wrestling career and the infamous Bholu Brothers who ran the Dar-ul-Sehat gym in Pakistan. The style of kushti of grabbing and throwing to the ground will be beneficial to fighters in MMA. Boxing coaches are also common in Pakistan and their hooks will also be very useful. These two sports can contribute a great deal in creating great Pakistani MMA fighters.
Trims Fitness Fort in Islamabad and Tigers Fight Club in Rawalpindi are great places for training for MMA. They have people who know mixed martial arts and love mixed martial arts. Shaheen MMA academy is also going to commence operations on the same date as the release of Lahore the movie. This is a very smart move because as people in Pakistan get interested in the sports they will also want to train in the sport. The sport makes people want to play because honestly speaking, every guy wants to be able to beat everyone else in a fight. And when the fight is so spectacularly good as it is in MMA people will be very interested in learning it. MMA is also good because it helps you become very fit and at the same time it applies the learning of martial arts in a practical way.
Many times it was tried to bring boxing to the mainstream in Pakistan but it failed. There was even a heavily marketed televised tournament which tried to make things professional but there was just no interest in it. The reason for this is that the Pakistani mindset is not used to boxing. But martial arts have always been held in high esteem here. Bruce Lee had many fans here and nowadays people love Jet Li and Jackie Chan. So they will obviously be interested in seeing these kinds of real fights.
Lahore: The Movie shows a big fight happening between a Pakistani and an Indian boxer. It capitalizes on the hype that is generated any time there is a sports match between Pakistan and India. When these two countries are sparring on the field people will watch the match no matter what it is. People start watching hockey when these two countries are involved. Lahore: The Movie shows all this hype and the countries going into frenzy and getting emotionally attached to the fight just like they do when it comes to cricket.
The reason that MMA can become even bigger than cricket is that it is much more personal and has a lot more glory involved in it. Instead of there being a whole team and matches lasting for hours, these fights involve two people and last shorter. They involve strength. And while the punches being thrown in other sports are merely metaphorical but in MMA these punches are literal. Every hit hurts not just the player’s image but also their body. And the loser in the end is knocked out of their senses literally true.
It remains to be seen how far MMA will go in Pakistan but so far nothing but good things can be seen.