What does the future hold for entrepreneurship? Every year experts predict categories which will lead the way in the year ahead. Fitness made its way to the top ten categories for the year 2016. The world of fitness has yet again shown its muscle in the enterprise world. And, under it – falls Mixed Martial arts which is now the fastest growing sport in the world. Needless to say, everyone now wants a piece of that cake. But, do you have what it takes to be successful in the business? Let’s take notes from the very best and in this case the very first and also the only one.
With a goal to give the people of Nagaland a platform to learn – and a taste of what mixed martial arts is all about, Khremelie Metha established The Combat Academy.
Remember a decade ago when the Ultimate Fighting Championship, also known as UFC (the premier MMA organization), was completely unknown and critics wrote them off with two words ‘human cockfighting’? Valued over $1.65 billion, it was featured on Forbes Fab 40 list of “World’s Most Valuable Sports Brands” (2014). Now how about that for ‘human cockfighting’?
Roots & Leisure caught up with him to ask him about his journey thus far:
- Can you share a little bit about The Combat Academy and what it aims to achieve ?
The Combat Academy Dimapur is the first and only Mixed Martial Arts gym in Nagaland. I started it two years ago with the sole ambition to develop homegrown athletes who wanted to compete professionally. TCA is a platform to gain a higher level of professionalism directed towards Martial Arts. We are now a team of passionate fighters who have spent the last two years traveling to train and compete both nationally & internationally and build reliable expertise. Since then we have gone on to expand and have recently inaugurated our new facility in Kuda Village at Nagarjan,Dimapur. Trainings are handled by five instructors who have all trained at The Combat Academy itself and have represented the state nationally, and have represented India in international competitions.
“While MMA is our passion, fitness is our revolution. Through our work, we encourage a way of life that is all about being the best you can be – physically and mentally.”
- But why MMA ?
Martial arts is my passion. I go to bed and wake up every morning looking forward to go to the gym to train/coach. It’s not work for me, it’s something I enjoy doing.
- What triggered your decision to start the academy in Nagaland?
While training in Evolution Combat Sports Academy in Mumbai, I injured my foot. I was home for the next two months recuperating from that injury. To kill time, I went and got some equipment so I could continue training here.
“There were some boys living around who got very curious about what I do, especially Ketholetuo Nagi (now an assistant coach at TCA) who already had some Naga wrestling experience. So we just started training with each other. They taught me some moves and I taught them some things I knew. I was very impressed with how talented these guys were and how fast they were able to catch up. I spoke to my coaches back in Mumbai about how promising they were. We immediately started making plans to take some of the boys down to Mumbai and also my coaches to come up to Dimapur to work with the boys here.”
Needless to say, they too were pretty thrilled with the talent here and steps were taken to build something more concrete. One thing led to another and with my head coach Jitendra Khare’s help, The Combat Academy happened. Today Ketholetuo Nagi is one of the most promising amateur athletes in India, with a 4-1 amateur record in Mixed Martial Arts. He also bagged a Bronze in the Jiu Jitsu Indian national games where he represented Nagaland amongst the best in the country.
- It is a spectator sport no doubt. But, it is not a very popular one. How well do you think people have responded to it in Nagaland?
To raise awareness, we’ve also had a few seminars in schools and it completely surprised us that a lot of the kids already knew the moves we were showcasing. Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC is extremely popular in Nagaland. What is not so well-known is that they can train MMA as a form of self-defence and fitness here in Nagaland itself. Therefore, the year 2014 also saw us hosting the first ever Yoddha Fighting Championship (an amateur MMA promotion my team from Mumbai and I started) show in Dimapur. We followed it up with another show in Mokokchung in 2015. It was not surprising that both shows were sold out. So, I think the response has been nothing short of spectacular.
- What are the criterias – for an individual to train for MMA?
Anyone who is passionate, and is willing to work hard. But of course to compete in MMA one would require adequate experience in striking and wrestling. And of course, a certain level of physical fitness is a must.
- What is the roadmap ahead for The Combat Academy?
On the fitness side, we aim to encourage more people to join our fitness revolution and focus on training young adults in school so that their journey starts early. On the professional front, we are looking to create avenues for combat athletes to sustain a livelihood by doing something they love – be it coaching or competing internationally.