“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
― Maya Angelou
I remember being in the locker room – inconsolable and in shock. “No….no….no,” I cried over and over again, my head in my hands, running from one place to another. It was as if someone had told me that my family had been killed. I was in denial and total disbelief. Everything I had been looking forward to, the positive things that were to come in my life, the pride that I could bring to Pakistan — it all turned to ash. All I was left with was a 21 second video of me rushing recklessly into the right hook of fighter Jimmy Yabo.
Today, I am grateful for what happened. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. This fight was important to me and feeling upset is natural — but I would not trade what I have learned, who I am as a fighter, or my fans for the world. And I am looking forward to the next time I step into the cage, and an even sweeter, more meaningful victory.
What changed my attitude? I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from friends, family and people around the world who follow my career. It reminds me that there are many who support me for who I am, not what I do. This gives me strength beyond measure.
I’m grateful because now I have the chance to show people real strength. I now have a chance to be Bashir Ahmad. A man who overcomes adversity. Something much more powerful than just beating some guy in a match – to be far more than a fighter, defined by the span of a career and numbers on his record. I am blessed by the people whom I represent — the friends forged over the years of making Pakistani MMA, the children growing up in slums where I built one of my gyms, and the men and women of Pakistan who have to fight everyday to survive.
I always knew what kind of fighter I was going to be. Just like I knew deep in my heart that I would return to Pakistan, someway and somehow. I knew then and I know now that I am not a symbol of natural talent that wows the world with the ease at which I dispatch my opponents. I am the warrior that makes you weep as you see him stand back up after being knocked down. Down but not out. Beaten but not broken. I strive to be a man that inspires others.
Once again, I must prove what I am made of. Will Bashir Ahmad be able to handle the emotional toll this loss brings and redeem himself? We get to see Bashir Ahmad’s will to win in the fight, but what about when you’re away from the bright lights that hang over the arena? I thank God for this opportunity and for this test. It is situations like these that build character.
Now, looking down at the next part of this journey, I am supremely grateful. I will show the world the power of the human spirit. I will inspire. I am determined.
I owe myself, and my supporters another showdown with Jimmy Yabo. I’m glad Jimmy got his moment to shine, but I won’t be gifting him a win next time. But the next time I stare down that cage, whether it’s Jimmy or someone else, I won’t be fighting to conquer the world, but to conquer myself.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
Photo Credits: Zooni Afzal Photography