Mumbai: Legendary boxer Mike Tyson will visit India for the Kumite 1 league mixed martial arts (MMA) tournament to be held here on September 29.
Tyson’s association with the Kumite 1 league is in the capacity of a mentor and he will be the chief guest of honour at the launch and fight night.
“Namaste India. I am Mike Tyson and I am coming to see you in Worli, Mumbai on September 29,” Tyson said in a video on the Kumite 1 league’s Youtube channel.
In the past the former world heavyweight champion had declined several requests both from the sports and film fraternity to visit India. So what really convinced him this time?
Talking about Tyson’s consent, promoter of Kumite 1 League, Mohamed Ali Budhwani said: “Not long back, my face to face meeting with Mike Tyson to convince him to come to India is by itself a journey that I will cherish all my life. It was both thrilling and an emotional one for me.”
“I travelled all the way to Las Vegas with a throbbing heart. I’m a hardcore MMA fan and have put years of my life into research so that I’m able to build the sport and thereby create opportunities for thousands of people in this country to have a sustainable livelihood. Tyson’s support is invaluable in this journey and I’m eternally grateful to him,” he said in a statement.
“Mike Tyson wants to see MMA grow in India so that people find employment and that it reaches talented fighters at grass root level. Our visions aligned and I believe that was the clincher. He truly wants to see Kumite 1 league taking MMA to remote corners of the country and find talented fighters, which is exactly what we will do. Right after the launch and fight night we will dive headlong into a talent hunt across the country starting with Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and spread out to the interiors.”
Talking about his conversation with Mike Tyson, Budhwani added: “He asked me a very pertinent and sharp question- ‘Has anyone in India risen from the slums as I have? His question fuelled my resolve even further. I’m determined to take back real talent to him from my country. Another aspect of my conversation which I fondly recall, with utmost childlike innocence he asked me ‘Do people know me in India?”
“I was a bit taken aback thinking that he must be kidding me but promptly enough I realized that it was a genuine question and I gave him a genuine answer, saying ‘In the US people know you but in India people love you.”