Favorites Edit

Exclusive: Kumite 1 League Founder Discusses Launching The League With Mike Tyson As Brand Ambassador

Riju Dasgupta
803   //    06 Sep 2018, 15:42 IST

Mohamedali Budhwani pictured alongside the legendary Mike Tyson
Mohamedali Budhwani pictured alongside the legendary Mike Tyson

Perhaps no other sport has grown as rapidly and exponentially as Mixed Martial Arts over the last few years in India. The time is rife and opportune for the launch of Kumite 1, India's first global MMA promotion, believes the visionary founder, Mr. Mohamedali Budhwani.

And to prove just how serious they are, the league has appointed Heavyweight boxing legend Mike Tyson to be the face of the promotion. Tyson will be in India for the very first time on September 29th, to grace the inaugural event that the league is promoting. The first fight night will pit Indian fighters against those from UAE, in a showcase of the action that K1L has in store for fans.

Mr. Budhwani is truly flattered that Mike Tyson agreed to become the face of the brand, and had to go quite the extra mile to recruit the legend. He elaborates thus:

I went to Las Vegas and I was told that Mike Tyson does not wish to come to India because of the travel involved. I asked them to give me just half an hour with him. I told him my name is Mohamedali. And we know that Tyson is a big fan of Muhammad Ali. Because of my name, things were easier with him.

Why choose a boxer as the face of an MMA brand, then? Mr. Budhwani informs me that Tyson is a massive MMA fan himself, and during the course of their conversation was startled that combat sports did not really have a good platform in the country. It was at that point that Mr. Budhwani asked him to grace the country with a visit.

He asked me if there are fighters in India who came up from poverty and rose against the odds? I told him that yes, there were many such individuals. Mike Tyson himself came from the slums and rose to super stardom. Yes, he's a boxer but he loves MMA. So he agreed and said, 'Okay, I'll come to support you!' He's a very nice, very humble guy. Very down to earth guy!

The first season of the league will feature eight teams from eight different countries. Each team consists of seven men and two women fighters.


While broadcast deals are being inked right now, Mr. Budhwani assures us that it's only a matter of time before they are finalized. The broadcast will range far and wide, in almost 70 other countries aside from India, across millions of households, Mr. Budhwani declares. What does he hope to achieve?

I've been conducting research about how to go about things for the last four years. I want to provide employment to the people of my country. IPL has generated a massive amount of employment for Indians. This will be the first ever sporting venture in the world which will be listed. I want to take India to the world. If your country is playing for something, fans will naturally support the team!

To select the talent that will eventually be a part of this event, Kumite 1 League will conduct a talent search that goes to the grassroots level across four cities and identifies the MMA superstars of the future.

Subsequently, these fighters will be honed and nurtured, and the men and women will be trained to compete at the very highest level of combat sport. This talent search will span across Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru.

Right now, Mike Tyson is just launching the league. Later on, he will also be mentoring the league.

How does Mr. Budhwani explain the meteoric popularity of Mixed Martial Arts in the country. He explains in simple terms, how even if a fight occurs in the street, a crowd gathers around to see it unfold. He goes on to mention how his job is to locate one McGregor-equivalent from a population of a billion Indians. Maybe this same individual can work the same wonder that Vijender has done for boxing in the country, he explains.

According to him, MMA has a bright and prosperous future in the country.

Almost every formatted gym has a vertical called MMA along with Zumba, yoga and the likes. That's where the interest is. MMA classes in every gym are filled to capacity. Most Bollywood stars are involved in MMA these days. MMA gives you maximum core strength. Bodybuilding is okay, but if the base isn't strong, the building will collapse..

The league has already recruited some big names from the Mixed Martial Arts world including Paulo Silva and Leandro Silva in their ranks. Moreover, some big names from India including Sumit Khade and Hardeep Rai will also be a part of the league.

The Mixed Martial Arts boom is in full effect in India, and Kumite 1 League hopes to play a big role in the revolution to come!

Check out the website for Kumite 1 League here.