When “The Indian Notorious” Roshan Mainam left his village in Northeast India for big-city Delhi, his main goal was to find a line of work that would support his then-ailing father.
The 24-year-old never imagined that his choice would lead him to ONE Championship, where, on Friday, 9 October, he will make his sophomore appearance against ONE Hefei Flyweight Tournament Champion Liu Peng Shuai at ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES.
But even after this incredible journey, Mainam won’t forget his early days in rural India, where he forged a lifelong bond with his family’s patriarch.
“I spent the first 15 years of my life at home, so I am very close to my father,” he says. “I stayed in my village until 2010, and then I moved to Delhi. Since then, I have been away from my father and family.”
What made being away from home so challenging for Mainam was that his father was sick. In fact, for as long as the athlete could remember, the head of his household had suffered from one health condition after another.
“My father had asthma for a very long time, and he was on medication for several years,” the fighter explains.
“He used to drink a lot, too. Around 2012 to 2013, his health deteriorated. His liver got infected, and he had some heart and kidney problems as well.”
With that, every member of the household pulled their resources together and prepared for the worst.
“At one point, we thought that he might not survive,” Mainam adds.
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Back in 2014, I thought that I had lost everything after someone stole the bag in which I had all my certificates. I was on my way to Delhi from Manipur that day and I lost my bag in Guwahati leaving me with nothing but a phone in my hand. I thought that it was the end for me and ended up sleeping in the sidewalks after searching a whole day for my bag. All my dreams came crashing down that day. I reached back to Manipur with the help of a friend and I had no idea what I was going to do. Six years on, I look back at the incident as something that changed the course of my life. Although I felt sad at that time, If I hadn’t lost the certificates that day, I would’ve been working somewhere now instead of pursuing my dream in MMA. There is a good side to every incident that happens in your life. You might not realize it now but you will realize it at some point. Whatever you are going through now, believe in the journey and never give up. You will get there. #mma #India #Manipur #ONEChampionship #EVOLVEMMA #IndianMMA #MMAIndia #boxing #bjj #muaythai #kickboxing #jiujitsu #fitness #martialarts #wrestling #fight #grappling #karate #training #fighter #mmafighter #judo #gym #mixedmartialarts #sport #brazilianjiujitsu #workout #motivation #RoshanMainam
While in Delhi, the youngster took up odd jobs to help pay the increasing medical bills. And back in his home village, his mother worked at a mill while nursing the head of the family back to health.
“Fortunately, because of all this, we saved his life,” Mainam says.
It was hard times for Mainam and his family, but those brittle moments motivated him to live a life very different from that of his father.
“His health taught me that I have to be strong and needed to do something in life,” he says.
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That something turned out to be wrestling, which Mainam quickly excelled at, becoming a multiple-time Indian Wrestling Champion. That success pleased his father, who thought his son’s drive would carry over into a nine-to-five.
“When I was winning medals in sports, he used to be extremely happy with my talent,” Mainam says. “He hoped that [because of my talent], I’d get a very good job one day.”
However, “The Indian Notorious” had other plans. “I never even tried to get a full-time job,” he says.
Instead, the Indian chased down his dream of becoming a professional mixed martial artist. He started out by gaining experience on the local scene, ultimately scoring two submission wins and one TKO.
Those dominant victories earned him a slot at the Evolve Global Tryouts in Singapore in November 2018, where Mainam impressed the gym’s coaches and was recruited to join their fight team.
The win not only added Mainam’s name to an already stacked flyweight division, but it also earned him praises from his local community.
“Now that I have this opportunity to train at Evolve, I get lots of respect at my village because I am the only person from Northeast India to be a part of ONE Championship,” he says.
“Whenever I visit my hometown, they welcome me with open arms. They take pride in me and I want to make them feel proud.”
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As for Mainam’s father, it’ll take a little bit more to bring the pride out of him, but not because he doesn’t support his son’s career choice. His health ordeal has just made him a more modest man.
“My father is a very simple person,” the flyweight says.