Son of BEST driver and newspaper vendor seeks MMA glory in Las Vegas

Updated: 21 July, 2016 13:13 IST | Shailesh Bhatia |

Chosen as one of the 10 fighters from the country to represent India at a UFC event in Vegas, Manish Sikhre has managed to collect Rs 1 lakh by mortgaging his mother’s jewellery so far, needs Rs 1.65 lakh more

Dreams come true only for those who dare to dream. Beating all odds, Manish Sikhre (25) is all set to fly to Las Vegas to fulfil his dream of representing India at the World Championship of Amateur MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) on July 5. Renowned as UFC (Ultimate Fight Club) International Fight Week, over 200 amateur competitors from 47 countries are expected to participate at the international event.

Besides operating a newspaper stand, Meena Sikhre is now working as a domestic help and a cook to make extra income. Manish poses with a gold medal he won at a recent competition
Besides operating a newspaper stand, Meena Sikhre (left) is now working as a domestic help and a cook to make extra income. Manish (above right and below) poses with a gold medal he won at a recent competition

Unfortunately, inadequate finances are threatening to crush Manish’s dream. The weeklong trip is going to cost him about R2.65 lakh. While the family has managed to raise Rs 1 lakh after mortgaging his mother’s jewellery, the Sikhres are leaving no stone unturned to amass the rest.

Manish Sikhre

The family of four resides in a small house at MHADA colony, Charkop. While Manish conducts part-time MMA classes, his father is a BEST conductor. In addition, his mother runs a newspaper stall outside their home to support the family.

Mum to the rescue
Speaking to mid-day, Manish revealed that he received a letter from All India Mixed Martial Arts Association (AIMMAA) in February, informing him about his selection for the event. However, the thought of managing the expenses bogged him down. “My mother, Meena, sensed my plight. She immediately mortgaged whatever jewellery she had and we managed to raise Rs 1 lakh.”

Speaking from their modest
25x30 square feet apartment, Meena, who appears to have aged beyond her years, said she had bought those ornaments by saving R100 per month. But Meena said she is more than happy that the gold purchased then is now helping her son materialise his dream.

“My husband, Arun, just resumed duty after four months of bed rest. He suffers from chest pain and stomachache, which refuse to heal. Moreover, his feet swell due to standing for long hours. Besides running the newspaper stand, I’ve now started working as a domestic help and a cook to make extra income,” said Meena.

‘Always a champ’
Narrating her son’s achievements, Meena said that Manish was in Class II when he first took karate lessons. “In the next five years, he earned his first-degree (1st dan) black belt. In 2011, he earned his third-degree (3rd dan) black belt in Sri Lanka and a gold medal at the Mayors Cup Championship. So far, he has won 45 golds at various state and national level championships. Moreover, he has won equal number of silver and bronze medals. Due to space constraints we are unable to display his medals in the house, so we have carefully packed and kept them in a box,” added Meena.

Pressed for cash
Over 6 feet tall, Manish is an expert karate, taekwondo, jiu-jitsu (Brazilian/Japanese), Systema (Russian martial arts) and Muay Thai fighter. Elaborating on his routine, Manish said he trains for up to six hours a day following which he conducts MMA and self-defence workshops for women at a school in Malad for free. “I can’t afford to spend on a meat diet or purchase high-protein health supplements. My breakfast consists of four eggs, followed by a simple meal of two chapatis and a vegetable. For dinner, I eat only salad,” he said.

Speaking to mid-day, AIMMAA general secretary and president Shihan Sharif Babu said he recently learned about Manish’s financial woes.

“He is one of the best fighters we have and it will be a pity if he misses out for such a prime event due to cash crunch. We have selected 10 fighters from all over India and two of the boys are from Mumbai and Thane. These fighters get paid only after they become professionals. We plan to leave on July 1, so that we are in time for the physical tests and segregation of participants as per their weight.”

Wish to help?
Those interested in making Manish Sikhre’s dream come true can contact him on 9702379700

First Published: 31 May, 2016 14:04 IST

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