A person can achieve whatever they want in life; as long as they want it bad enough because passion is what separates the extraordinary from the ordinary. MMA fighter Manish Sikhre, who is being funded by Super Fight League (SFL) to participate in the IMMAFF World Championship, is a living example of the fact that dreams do come true as long as you work hard enough for them.
The moment you interact with Manish for the first time, his humility just takes you aback and hits you right in the face. His voice sounds like that of a person who knows what it is like to struggle hard for your dreams and leave everything else behind. Sportskeeda spoke to Manish Sikhre over the phone and the 25-year-old told us about his childhood, background, hardships and love for MMA.
Circumstances never deter those who want things
Manish lives in Kandivali with his parents and younger brother, who is studying at the moment. Despite not being from a rich background, Manish has an air of amazing confidence about him and his words suggested that he never let circumstances take advantage of him. “My father works for BEST bus service and mother is a newspaper seller. Sometimes she goes and cooks food in other people’s homes to support the household,” Manish told Sportskeeda.
Growing up in households like these, things can get really difficult for a youngster who wants to pursue a particular dream, especially in sports. Manish, however, got raised in an exceptional family that saw the potential in him to do well at an early stage. “I started learning karate when I was in Class 2 and was sent there by my mother,” he said while recalling how he was initially really scared and it was his mother who pushed him into this.
“Now when I look back, it seems really funny that I was scared to go into karate class. But hats off to my mother who thought it was important for me to do something to develop my skills. My mother is my real hero if you look at things closely. She has always been there.
“I learnt a lot of things while growing up. My growth in karate was good and I earned my black belt when I was in class 7. It was an amazing day for me. Subsequently, as I grew up, I also learned taekwondo, kick boxing and boxing,” he said.
A hunger that never ends
Just when you think that this sort of adversity would bog down a talent like Manish in some way or the other, you are proven wrong by his insatiable desire and hunger to make it to the top, no matter what the cost. Manish initially saw MMA on television and after speaking to a few people, he conceived a wrong notion that it is not worth participating due to the inherent physical dangers involved.
However, better sense prevailed when he spoke to a seasoned MMA coach, who told him that if trained and fought properly, there is nothing extremely dangerous about the sport. This was the trigger point that got Manish involved in MMA and he has not looked back since. The great thing about Manish is the fact that he never forgot his responsibilities and has always taken care of his house.
“After I grew up, I decided to teach karate to earn money and support my family. Furthermore, I also helped my mother with her newspaper work by throwing papers in the morning. My father fell ill recently so it has been me and my mother taking care of everything,” he said without a trace of sadness or trouble. When he found out about the championship in Las Vegas through a letter from AIMAA ( All India Mixed Martial Arts Association), Manish realised that funds were always going to be a problem.
“The association has money but not so much that they can fund everyone to go for these big championships. Moreover, they have provided us with a platform and that is good enough for us. An initial fee of Rs. 1 lakh was supposed to be filled for registration and I did not know where it would come from. Suddenly my mother gave me the money and told me to register for the competition.
“I did not know that she had mortgaged her jewellery, otherwise I would have backed out of the competition. But no one told me and I registered for the competition. She told me afterwards that it was her dream to see me participate in that competition,” he said. Like mother, like son. Despite filling the initial amount, a little more than Rs. 1,50,000 was still left to be paid and it was a big hurdle for Manish.
One lucky day
He spoke about how an interview with Mid-Day got him in touch with Super Fight League and his life changed. “People from Mid-Day got to know about me and they wrote an article about me. It got noticed by SFL and they were ever so kind to help me out in realising my dream.” Manish will be in Las Vegas, living his dream from July 4th to July 10th. Super Fight League has made a huge contribution that is not just monetary but highly social as well.
India has a large pool of talent that goes down the drain due to lack of money and proper logistics. This is where organisations like SFL come in and help exceptional talents like Manish Sikhre to realise their dreams. Manish is quite aware of the state of his sport in the country and that is why he holds free workshops to help people learn more about MMA. “I think SFL can become as big as UFC. Their vision is great and it will succeed, slowly but surely.”
It is only symbolic that Manish Sikhre grew up to become a professional fighter after he defeated all other obstacles in his life.