Kantharaj Agasa “Kannadiga” is ready for his first appearance on the global stage.
This Friday, 28 May, the Indian grappling sensation turned rising mixed martial artist will make his ONE Championship debut against top Chinese flyweight “The Hunter” Xie Wei at ONE: FULL BLAST, and he intends to make a loud statement at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
More specifically, the 29-year-old Bangalore resident plans to finish his rival in the first round and then continue his ascent toward becoming his country’s second-ever Mixed Martial Arts World Champion.
Before he steps inside the Circle, here are five things you should know about the man who goes by “Kannadiga.”
#1 His First Love Was Wrestling
Agasa spent his childhood in Mandligrama, a village in the southwestern Indian state of Karnataka. That’s where he made his first friends, attended class, and discovered wrestling.
“My school was about 5 kilometers away from my home. On the way, there was an akhada (traditional wrestling gymnasium). My brother and I used to check it out of curiosity,” he says.
“When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I thought about trying my hand at wrestling. I competed at the national level for Under-14. But unfortunately, I could not continue because our village didn’t have facilities to train further.”
#2 He Became A Judo Star
The Indian may not have been able to continue wrestling, but soon after, he relocated to Bangalore – the capital city of Karnataka – and learned another grappling art.
That art was judo, and he was a natural.
“Since there were no facilities to further my skills, I moved to Bangalore. I stayed at a sports hostel and started training in judo,” Agasa recalls.
“I won the state and national championships. I was also a junior national champion, All India Inter-University Champion, and in 2010, I won the Best Judo Athlete award. After that, I represented India in the Amateur MMA World Championship.”
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#3 He’s A Military Man
“Kannadiga” took his love for judo with him to the Indian Armed Forces.
Though he played an active role in the military, Agasa also used his grappling skills to represent his country and served for five years.
“When I was 20 years old, I joined the military as part of the civilian staff,” he says. “At that time, I wanted to join the military’s judo team. I joined in 2011 and worked there till 2016.”
#4 He Loves Dogs
“I love dogs a lot,” he says.
“I have been away from home for 14 years now, so I have an attachment to pets. I don’t have any pets at home, but I feed street dogs during lunch and dinner time. They also know my routine, so we have formed a good bond.”
#5 He Turned Pro In MMA After One Year Of Training
Even though he quickly became a well-respected judo star, Agasa was determined to replicate that success in mixed martial arts – and he wasted no time before competing.
“I started my mixed martial arts training in 2015 and made my professional debut in 2016,” he says. “I had an unbeaten streak of 10 matches, and I used to pay from my own pocket to train. Whatever savings I had, I used it for training.”
The Bangalore resident would eventually experience some adversity, losing a pair of matchups. But once he linked up with Indian Combat Sports Academy, Agasa roared back with a massive victory and then signed with the world’s largest martial arts organization.
With an 11-2 MMA record, “Kannadiga” is now considered India’s finest homegrown mixed martial artist, and starting this Friday, he is ready to unlock his immense potential in ONE Championship.
Read more: 5 Big Reasons To Watch ONE: FULL BLAST