Asha “Knockout Queen” Roka is one of the most exciting debutants to arrive in ONE Championship in 2019.
The Indian national boxing champion will enter The Home Of Martial Arts with a decorated background in “the sweet science,” as well as a perfect 4-0 slate and 100-percent finishing rate as a professional mixed martial artist.
She will face a massive test of her skills when she takes on two-sport ONE World Champion Stamp Fairtex at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD, but Roka’s record shows she may be able to make the Thai star rethink her decision to shoot for an unprecedented third World Title in the Circle.
Ahead of her promotional debut next Friday, 16 August in Bangkok, Thailand, the 20-year-old reveals how she made it to the global stage.
A Sporting Childhood
Roka hails from Bhopal and has Nepalese heritage. She grew up in the Madhya Pradesh state capital with her parents, brother, and sister.
Her father was an unskilled worker in the local hospital, so they lived modestly, but he was passionate about sports, and encouraged his children to participate.
“I had very good support from my family because my father always liked sports,” she says.
Her brother played cricket, while she was an avid basketball player at the local sports academy. However, all three children eventually found the same passion for boxing.
“My brother went for boxing – his boxing skills are very good,” Roka adds.
“One day, I went with him to the academy just casually to explore and to know what martial arts is. I saw that a lot of girls and boys were doing boxing practice together. I felt this was very attractive and very unique, so I decided to join.”
Starting In The Sweet Science
Undefeated mixed martial arts phenom Asha Roka makes her ONE debut on 16 August against two-sport ONE World Champion Stamp Fairtex : Bangkok | 16 August | 5:30PM | ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD: Get your tickets at http://bit.ly/onegold19: Check local listings for global TV broadcast: Watch on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp : Prelims LIVE on Facebook | Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE on Twitter
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, 19 July 2019
Roka’s boxing lessons began at the age of 11 at the local stadium, and her natural ability was soon noticed by one of the trainers.
“I always liked martial arts. I wanted to go for wushu, but one of the boxing coaches invited me to train because he saw something in me,” she recalls.
“I was able to do pretty well on the first day of my training, so the coach invited me there for practice, and that’s when my boxing career started.”
The youngster committed herself to her training, and soon earned the chance to join her state’s boxing squad.
She overcame tough competition in the trials to get a spot at the academy. Because of the appeal of a nutritious diet that was suitable for athletes and the convenience of not having to travel there, “Knockout Queen” settled into the athletes’ housing.
With easy access to everything she needed, Roka’s decision paid off, as she racked up a long list of accolades, including local, national and international titles, and a bronze medal in the World Championships in Bulgaria in 2013.
“I won a gold medal in my first international competition, then the biggest of all is the World Championships,” she says.
“For us, this is very important, and winning a medal in the World Championships is a very big thing. I was the only athlete from India to win a medal. It was a very proud moment for me.”
A Bold Decision
Despite all of Roka’s success in the ring, factors beyond her control stopped her boxing dreams in their tracks.
“In India, boxing was banned for three years, so there were no competitions being held,” she says.
“Camps were being organized, but there were no tours. I felt demotivated and lost interest in boxing. Also, there was lots of politics in boxing as well.
“I was watching some mixed martial arts fights on TV, and then I got attracted to it. I thought there was no harm in trying, so I took a break from boxing and tried mixed martial arts.”
There was nowhere to train her new sport in her home state, so she packed her bags and moved more than 700 kilometers away to Delhi.
Her family was not pleased with her decision and tried to make her rethink her choices, but she stuck to her guns – even when things got tough.
“My father and mother were very upset. They told me several times to rejoin the academy. Many people told me to go back, but I did what I wanted to do,” continues “Knockout Queen.”
“It was difficult for me to stay there and to put aside the money needed for the training. I got some financial support from my family, but that was not sufficient enough to meet my training needs.
“It was very difficult, but I had some friends there, and they supported me. I thought if I could compete in a mixed martial arts fight once, then everyone would come to know about my capability.”
Working To The Top
16 AUGUST. BANGKOK. Petchdam Gaiyanghadao – defends his ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Title against Dutch destroyer Ilias Ennahachi! Stamp Fairtex begins her quest for a mixed martial arts World Title against undefeated phenom Asha Roka! Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Smokin' Jo Nattawut and Samy Sana vs. Dzhabar Askerov in the ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix semifinals!: Bangkok | 16 August | 7PM | ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD: Get your tickets at http://bit.ly/onegold19: Check local listings for global TV broadcast: Watch on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp : Prelims LIVE on Facebook | Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE on Twitter
Posted by ONE Championship on Wednesday, 17 July 2019
In the face of the doubters, Roka took her first bout against a heavier, more experienced opponent and scored a 9-second KO to get her new career off to a flying start.
“At that time, I proved myself to those who kept telling me that I couldn’t do it,” she asserts.
Roka is now 4-0 in mixed martial arts, and also returned to boxing to join the professional ranks, where she is similarly unbeaten at 7-0.
The Positron representative has finished all four of her mixed martial arts rivals in less than five minutes combined, and now she cannot wait to make her debut on the global stage and welcome Stamp back to the sport.
“I am feeling extremely good to be here in ONE Championship because this is a very big platform where athletes can prove themselves,” she says.
“There are a lot of Indians who wish to come to ONE and represent our nation. Since I got this chance, I will give my best.
“I feel really very proud that a female Indian fighter has got a chance to fight on such a big platform, and against an extremely good fighter. I will showcase my skills to the whole world and prove to other nations that Indian fighters are no less than others.”