Yesterday, Full Contact Championships, an Indian mixed martial arts promotion, got digital front page coverage in The Guardian, one of the most popular British newspapers. The most recent FCC held was back in mid-November, but the founder, Prashant Kumar, has proven interesting enough for sporadic media attention and FCC 5 will be announced soon.
The full article can be read here, and a nice set-up quote is below:
More than half of India's 1.2 billion inhabitants are under 30 and the number of middle-class households is expected to quadruple to 150 million in the next 20 years. Other extreme sports now gaining popularity in a country where the options were once largely limited to cricket, athletics and hockey include mountain-biking and whitewater rafting. India recently staged its first Formula One race.
"This is absolutely the right time for this in India," said Prashant Kumar, an advertising executive and the organiser of the Mumbai competition.
The event, complete with a blonde Russian woman in a miniskirt holding up the number of each round and an MC in tails pacing the ring, was the biggest Kumar had organised.
"The big cities in India are crying out for something like this," said Kumart, 41. "There's nothing to do except go to movies or a bar. This is exciting, new and easy to understand. Without any sponsors or marketing we can still get 500 people."
The sport is now licensed and legal. A doctor tends to wounds and an ambulance waits outside in the muggy autumn night. Contestants are paid between 5,000 and 10,000 rupees (£62 and £124).
The article is not going to win any journalistic awards, but despite Jason Burke playing up of the blood and guts angle, there are some good points made - the sport is licensed and legal, medical professionals are available and small, yet dedicated crowds are showing up for these.
The Full Contact Championship Facebook page is not anything to brag about, but it does showcase the growing interest and knowledge base of South Asian mixed martial arts devotees. Who knows? Maybe in twenty years, we'll see Sushil Kumar-types in the biggest promotions in the world.