Sports

Singapore inspires Rahul Raju to improve the Indian Mixed Martial Arts scene

Rahul “The Kerala Krusher” Raju has pursued his university degree and his passion for martial arts here in Singapore for almost a decade.

After pushing his dad to let him try kung fu during his teenage years, he relocated to Singapore to study Mechatronics Engineering at Temasek University.

While there, he discovered silat and mixed martial arts, and now he is living his dream as a full-time martial artist.

As he continues teaching at Juggernaut Fight Club and rise up ONE Championship’s lightweight ranks, the Kerala, India native only hopes his homeland will support the sport for aspiring martial artists just like him.

“The mixed martial arts scene is not that big yet, but it’s growing," he explained. 

"I think people should get it together because people are not well educated about mixed martial arts and a lot of other sports in India.

“A healthy nation needs to have a good sports program — that is what I personally believe.”

Raju has seen Singapore’s bustling martial arts scene firsthand.

Not only has he witnessed the growth of ONE Championship and local gyms in Singapore but he has seen his fellow athletes also compete for Singapore Fighting Championship. 

He has experienced all of this while supporting his family and developing his skills as a professional.

“I was lucky enough because I was able to work on it myself – I earned enough money to support my family and build a career,” he said.

“Not everyone has that opportunity. Even if you’re good at a sport, if you don’t have enough money to survive, it will be impossible for you to pursue a career in sports. That is when the nation needs to give its support to its athletes.”

While he may not be in his homeland, he understands his role in shaping the future for his compatriots in the field of sports.

He also knows it will take more than one person to help raise this awareness.

“As it continues to grow, people like me who represent India on the global stage have to work hard and not expect anything from any organization,” he said.

“In the future, we need to serve as examples for our countrymen. I will do my part, and a lot of fighters are doing their part, too. I’m just one of them.”

For now, he is gearing up for his latest competition.

On Friday, 17 May, Raju will compete in his second home as he takes on Richard “Notorious” Corminal in the opening bout of ONE: Enter The Dragon, which takes place inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Raju is excited to display his skills for a global audience in here, but he hopes to compete in India at some point in the future, too.

“I’m hoping that ONE Championship will come to my country in the near future, just like it has with all the rest of the countries in Asia,” he said.

MMA (MIXED MARTIAL ARTS)