Fight Path: The 'warrior monk' life of Pakistan gym owner Bashir Ahmad


bashir-ahmad.jpgBashir Ahmad can be credited with many things in his life. The latest of those was serving as a pioneer of sorts for mixed martial arts in Pakistan, where he opened and continues to operate Synergy Mixed Martial Arts Academy.

But that’s just one thing on a list of accomplishments including a college degree, work toward a master’s degree and traveling through dozens of countries.

His preference, though, is to not take credit for those kinds of accomplishments. His preference, in fact, is doing exactly what he is this week leading up to his second professional MMA fight: living and training in a mosque in Singapore to avoid distractions.

“It is making me feel like a warrior monk,” Ahmad told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “My living arrangements are simple, and it drills home the fact that I am here to fight, I am not here for a vacation. I have no Internet or TV. All I have at night are thoughts of me defeating my opponent.”

The living and training conditions match the discipline and commitment to martial arts and MMA that Ahmad has displayed since beginning his training. His next opportunity to show his progress comes when the featherweight takes on Shannon Wiratchai at “ONE FC 8: Kings and Champions” on April 5 in Singapore.

Now 1-0 as a professional following a victory in just 26 seconds in his debut in April 2012, Ahmad has continued molding his earlier interest in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai into a fighting career. That career runs concurrent to his building of MMA interest in Pakistan, where some call him the “Father of Pakistani MMA.”

At least for these few weeks of training and fighting, the 30-year-old Pakistan resident will shift his focus to his own career, which got off to an explosive start last April and whose future many are curious to watch progress.

“I am looking forward to being home with my family after this,” Ahmad said, “but in terms of getting myself ready for this fight, the preparation has been amazing.”

World traveler

Ahmad spent most of his youth in Virginia, although he also was traveling extensively, something that would continue throughout his life.

He was always interested in books and reading, but he admits that he wasn’t the most committed of students. He entered what he called his “slacker phase” and wasted some of his studying potential, at least until he joined the Army.

That experience provided the discipline he used when attending George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., where he earned a degree with honors. The experience inspired him to pursue a master’s degree, which he’s doing now in exercise science.

The exercise interest started when he was young, because he and his family didn’t spend time watching television in the house. That’s also one of the reasons he didn’t have a large interest in sports as a child. He was outside or looking for activities.

By the time he discovered Brazilian jiu-jitsu while in college, it became one of his first true passions. He had developed a wide base of experience while traveling to 25 countries throughout his life, living mostly in the U.S., Thailand and Pakistan.

“I have just learned a lot of tolerance to other people’s opinions and ways,” he said. “Not just tolerance for others, but also fascination about their culture. I truly consider myself a global citizen. I am an American citizen, but who I am has been influenced by Asia just as much as the USA.”

He would soon be giving back to those cultures.

Inspiring MMA interest

Ahmad first got serious about martial arts in about 2005. Even though he knew MMA existed, he wasn’t nearly as interested in the sport as he was about martial arts in general.

MMA eventually became the easiest way to train and express those martial arts he had been practicing. His interest grew to the point that he would drive to three different gyms for three different training sessions in the same day.

Once living in Pakistan, he wanted to spread that interest. His first gym was a small apartment with mats, where he also slept. He was aided by his grandmother’s former driver, who shared the apartment and helped Ahmad train during the day.

Eventually, the Pakistani MMA following grew to the point that Ahmad was able to open Synergy, which he operates today.

Despite all of those accomplishments, Ahmad doesn’t necessarily fit the profile of the MMA fighter and gym owner. He’s a cat guy, which surprises many people. He also prefers solitude at times, saying that his perfect living situation would include “a small town living in a farm with a Thai style MMA gym attached to it.”

Even while focusing his attention on training others, Ahmad was building his own career. He has a 5-3 Muay Thai record with two amateur MMA fights and the 26-second professional debut win.

It was so fast, Ahmad said, that he doesn’t even really consider it his debut. Many more will be introduced to the Pakistani MMA pioneer at his next fight, which he hopes will help continue progress in his own career as well as his passion for growing interest in the sport overall.

“Fighting in ONE FC is definitely the biggest highlight in my career so far, other than highlights that include the progress MMA has made in Pakistan,” he wrote. “Every single milestone that occurs, I get personal happiness from it no matter where it is.”

For more on ONE FC 8, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Award-winning newspaper reporter Kyle Nagel pens “Fight Path” each week. The column focuses on the circumstances that led fighters to a profession in MMA. Know a fighter with an interesting story? Email us at news [at] mmajunkie.com.

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