CHENNAI: Remember that Rocky scene where Sylvester Stallone runs up all those steps? Well, a youth from Chrompet likes to use the temple steps at Pallavaram to get fighting-ready. And, Abdul Nazzeur is the loner from State slugging it out at the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) tournament in Bahrain, on invitation by the Prince, Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
For those unaware, MMA is the combination of a blend of a variety of martial arts and combat sports including the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Japan’s Shoot Wrestling.
The 20-year-old whose fight name is simply ‘Abu’, is representing the All India Mixed Martial Arts Federation along with 13 other fighters from the country. Express caught up with the fighter ahead of the tournament which kicked off on Thursday.
Abu sounds kind of like Ali. Coincidence?
My mother was talking to me about Muhammed Ali when I was in school, and I remember that’s what got me interested in fighting in the first place. Before I got into MMA, I was actually a state champion boxer.
Are you nervous about Bahrain?
If you had asked me that question last year I might have said yes. That’s when I fought my first international opponent at Prague. He was an African American, which is the ethnicity of so many of the greats like Mike Tyson, so I was definitely nervous. But my boss from Combat Kinetics, where I teach gave me some pep talk and I won. So now, not so nervous to fight abroad.
Anything different about your training ahead of this tournament?
Well I train six hours a day, every day, so not really. But I am surviving on just sprouts and chicken right now. Although, no complaints, back in college when I was just getting started in this sport we hit some really tough financial times at home. This meant there was nothing to eat except thayir sadam after a heavy session of training. So giving up carbs doesn’t hurt as much these days!
We hear that fighting in tournaments is what bought you your first plane ticket...
Yes! I live in Chrompet and my gym when I started out was at Chetpet, so I would cross the airport every day and look at it longingly. My first flight was to Mumbai for a national championship and my second was to Prague last year, where I had my first international fight.
MMA is a full contact combat sport. What’s scarier, a broken nose or broken teeth?
Neither. I broke my nose when I was in fifth standard so I’m over that .