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How Siddharth Singh produced MMA fighters in India?

Published at :May 21, 2022 at 1:22 AM
Modified at :May 21, 2022 at 1:22 AM
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Joseph Biswas

He is the only Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt holder from India.

Siddharth Singh is the founder of Crosstrain Fight Club - India’s top mixed martial arts academy. The institution has over five branches across the country. He coaches over 100 amateur and professional MMA fighters and has a bunch of achievements under his belt. He is the only Indian in history to win a BJJ Championship in Britain (Manchester Open 2018- Purple Belt). 

Singh is also a national level boxer. He is ambitious about helping the growth of MMA in India through his academy. The six-time Indian National BJJ Champion was in conversation with Khel Now where he talked about his early days as a boxer, his job in the UK and the challenges of starting an MMA academy.

Getting into MMA

Talking about the early days, Siddharth gave an account of how he got into the MMA scene. He said, “I started with combat sports and BJJ and MMA are the two branches of combat sports. I started off with boxing. I went to school in Dehradun, a school called Doon school. There, boxing is a sport and I was 12-years-old, it was a boarding school and my brother was already doing boxing. Initially, I said no to boxing because no 12-year-old wants to get punched in the face but because my brother was doing it, they put me in it by default.”

“I found it to be really difficult. When you play a team sport, nobody blames you (on a loss), it's the entire team that gets the blame. But in boxing the whole school would be watching you and the nervousness was so crazy, I was completely blown away with it.” he continued. He also talked about picking up Muay Thai in the United Kingdom where he was also introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He also says he never particularly trained in MMA but in the four forms of martial arts that constitute MMA.

Siddharth Singh had a very lucrative job in the UK and his could have had a secured future. However, he still chose to come back to India. Explaining the decision, he said “I had a very good job. I was the brand manager for this sports and lifestyle brand. Travel was amazing and everything was perfect. I had this hunger for representation. The motivation was to come back and change how we see mixed martial arts. Convincing my parents was a difficult task initially.”

Challenges of being an MMA fighter in India

The sport of MMA is still in a budding stage in India and the path is full of challenges. Talking about what he faced personally and the obstacles that a fighter faces, Siddharth said, “I had to establish a sport which people didn’t know even existed. I had to establish an academy, find trainers, and coaches and finally convince people who were curious about the sport. It took me many years, I went broke and a number of times I thought about shutting shop. I had taken loans and was in debt. There was a lack of awareness. For fighters, academies like mine make it much easier. There are events and tournaments also. Fighters have a lot of opportunities to display their skillset within India.”

“When I started there were no competitions in India. I had to go abroad to compete with foreigners to get a real assessment of where I stand,” he continued talking about his personal challenges as an MMA fighter.

Future of MMA in India

Siddharth Singh talks about the future of MMA in India in a positive way. In a hopeful tone, he said, “I am very optimistic about the growth of the sport. I think, in the long term it's going to be a very popular sport. Maybe after the big three - cricket, hockey, and soccer - I think MMA is going to be in the top five most popular sports in India. In the USA, MMA and BJJ are the fastest growing sports both in terms of people doing it and spectators. I expect the same from India. It will grow very fast.”

UFC is doing good work

UFC is a major player in the world of MMA and it is steadily growing in India. It has some of the world’s most popular MMA fighters. Talking about their growth in the Indian context, Siddharth opined, “UFC is showing matches live for free while they are pay per view in countries like the USA. The challenge for UFC is that there is no Indian superstar. They wanna get an Indian fighter who is popular and famous. One of my students Anshul is fighting in the UFC next month on the 10th of June. Hopefully, he could be that one guy that the UFC pushes to promote the sport.”

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