Mumbai MMA fighter will go to Vegas event, thanks to mid-day readers

Donations started pouring in for Manish Sikhre soon after mid-day highlighted his plight in May; he now has enough money to sponsor his Las Vegas trip and buy professional gear

In less than a fortnight after mid-day published the plight of a martial art expert, whose quest to do India proud by winning a medal at an international Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event in Las Vegas was about to shatter owing to lack of funds, help poured in from all corners for the 25-year-old athlete.

Manish Sikhre (extreme left) with his family
Manish Sikhre (extreme left) with his family

Thanking the donors, Manish Sikhre, son of an ailing BEST conductor and a newspaper vendor, said, “Help started pouring in soon after the article appeared in mid-day and we managed to collect Rs 81,050. However, the best news came on Friday evening. I received a call from the Delhi office of British business tycoon Bill Dosanjh. The staffer whom I spoke to told me to forget about the financial woes and concentrate on training and making India proud.”

He added Rs 1.65 lakh was soon credited into his account — the amount Sikhre was struggling to collect.

Manish said, with the extra cash at disposal, he can now afford professional gear and spend on food and travel while in Vegas. Manish originally needed Rs 2.65 lakh for the week-long World Champion-ship of Amateur MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) starting July 5. The family had already amassed Rs 1 lakh by selling his mother’s gold jewellery.

Amishi Honawar, a family friend of the Sikhres, who is helping Manish manage finances and make travel arrangements, said the athlete has been busy answering calls from the day the article appeared in mid-day.

“Strangers were calling to and offering monetary support. Money came from as far as Dubai and we don’t even know the names of these donors. We are completely overwhelmed by the support Manish has received,” she said.

Excited with the positive development, Daniel Isaac, national commissioner and general secretary of All India Mixed Martial Arts Association (AIMMA), said it would have been a pity had one of their star athletes had to drop out owing to financial limitations. Isaac said candidates chosen for Vegas were shortlisted painstakingly following months of selection process.

‘Happy to support’
Replying via e-mail, Dosanjh, founder of Super Fight League (SFL), an organisation he formed in 2012 with Olympic boxing champ and pro boxer Amir Khan, said the news report had highlighted how young Indians athletes often fail to fulfil their dream due to cash crunch. “We are pleased to support Manish, as we believe the power of dreams is the biggest. We look forward to his fight and hope he returns with glory,” the reply read.

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