Indian MMA fighter Sascha Sharma on making India proud, MMA in India
- While India is not unaware of the word MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), it has a long way to go in embracing the sport by and large. Not all, except for MMA fighters, fan and enthusiasts who follow The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) know of this IndoGerman fighter Sascha Sharma.
Coming from Germany, this fighter has an Indian father and a German mother. Sascha – who is part of Team Conor McGregor in the 22nd edition of TUF, was formerly into video games and skateboarding before coming to the field of Combat Sports.
On his Inspiration
Himself coming from a BJJ, boxing and wrestling background, this Former SFL (Super Fight League) fighter credits Boxer Arthur Abraham as an influence on this area of Combat Sports.
He says, "It was 2008 when I got in touch with boxing. I saw Arthur Abraham [defending WBO Super Middleweight Champion] fighting for the world title with a broken jaw, it inspired me. I wanted to do the same."
On his Indian Roots
Sascha expresses that India has great talent albeit many stereotype Indians making them known for cricketers and Bollywood dancers. He, on the other hand, is proud to belong from this big heritage.
"I feel blessed and honoured. India has such a big heritage and I am proud to have the name Sascha Nitin Sharma," he says.
Furthermore, he went on to elaborate the great talents in India like Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt and Vijender Singh. He says, "Look at Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt or Vijender Singh. I want the people to know, that there is a fighting spirit in India. We have the oldest martial arts Kalaripayattu, we have Kushti. When I was in the show I immediately asked for an Indian flag."
On Indian MMA Scene
Sascha credits the pioneer of MMA in India Daniel Issac and India based MMA promotion Super Fight League (SFL) for their efforts.
Being a former SFL Fighter himself, he says, "When I was in India in 2013 to fight at the SFL, everything was so professional. I loved it. I wish I could have fought more for this organisation because they brought international fighters to fight in India. Also, there is some good talent in India."
When asked about the rising Indian stars in MMA, he named some of his SFL colleagues Abdul Muneer, Rajinder Singh Meena, Bharat Kandare.
He also claimed that if at all Sushil Kumar and Vijender Singh switch to MMA, the Indian scene would automatically have two top stars. "If you look at them from an athletic perspective, they have everything," says Sascha.
On Being Combat Ready
Firstly, putting light on his own training regime, Sascha says, "We did a light training session in the morning. Doing stuff we want, pad works, wrestling techniques or some Jiu Jitsu Drills. In the evening, Conor shows us his preferred techniques. But for beginners this is too technical."
Continuing by giving advice to beginners, he says:
"I would recommend, if you want to start MMA, then do the regular training, but also train one of the basic disciplines (i.e.Wrestling, Boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ or Judo) which you like the most. I do all of these disciplines additionally to my MMA training. So if you like takedowns, go wrestling, if you like kicking, go to Muay Thai, if you like groundwork, then go to BJJ."
According to him, following this advice would help one gain a deeper understanding of the basics in MMA and it will result into faster learning too.
On his Message to MMA fans, fighters and enthusiasts in India:
As proud as he is of his Indian descent, the 28-year old says that it's about time Indians rise to the occasion and show the world what they got.
"India is a big country with a rich history in martial arts, let's show the world, that we have not forgotten our heritage and we can produce good fighters. Look at what Sushil, Yogeshwar and Vijender did. I will do my best so India can be proud of me.
Bharat mata ki Jai!"
On a concluding note, he also expresses his gratitude to his family and friends in India for their support. He states to be working hard to make them proud.