India's first kickboxing champ and Super Fight League chief Rev Daniel Isaac preaches the philosophy of fighting
When Daniel Isaac displayed his perfectly measured flying kicks at the launch of the Super Fight League (SFL) yesterday, it was obvious that he is a highly trained martial artist, but none would have guessed that he is also a pastor.
Apart from being COO of the Mixed Martial Arts league (SFL), co-founded by businessman Raj Kundra and Bollywood superstar Sanjay Dutt, Isaac scouts, trains and handles the Indian fighters set to participate in it.
Isaac, who won gold in the 1994 WAKO Kickboxing Olympics to become India's first-ever World Kickboxing champion, believes martial arts and spirituality have a common link -- discipline. "Martial arts has always been synonymous with philosophy. Early Shaolin monks trained in combat and followed Buddhism as a philosophy.
"Martial arts involve fighting, but the core is discipline. It's like a gun. If there would be no trigger there would be just firing. But because there is a trigger you can control it. The philosophy is what disciplines the fighters," Isaac told MiD DAY.
Isaac grew up in Devlali and began training in martial arts at the age of five under the tutorship of his father Reverend Solomon. "He taught me everything. He was basically a street fighter. But later he trained in Kalaripayattu (an Indian martial art form of Kerala). He learnt judo, boxing and wrestling when he joined the Indian navy.
He later trained bodyguards for famous personalities, including Rajiv Gandhi and was also an instructor for the anti-terrorism squad in Oman," said the 37-year-old, who imparts his knowledge onto the seven Indian SFL fighters in his gyms in Devlali and Nashik.
Asked about his motivation to train and help young fighters make a name for themselves, Isaac, who still resides in Devlali along with his wife and two daughters, replied: "When I returned from Crimea after winning the world kickboxing championship, I was expecting a reception at Bombay (now Mumbai) airport but there was nobody, nothing. It was terrible. "Despite doing well I failed to get the name and fame. I'll make sure that doesn't happen to my fighters."
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