Ahmed Mujtaba won the MMA Championship but the media only cares about the Indo-Pak friction

Published: November 15, 2016
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Despite being ignored, Mujtaba didn’t lose hope and kept on training for his debut in Asia’s number one MMA championship ONEFC. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

His heart was racing. His feet were rising and falling to the roar of the crowd. He was like a beast in a jungle; fighting against a worthy opponent for dominance and glory. He knew he was a few minutes away from winning, just one more kick, one more punch and he would win a fight on one of the biggest MMA platforms in Asia.

He was even closer to winning the fight.
Photo: Facebook

Finally, the moment everyone was waiting for, the moment he had worked so hard for, had arrived – the result. He had won – and the decision had been unanimous. It was a proud moment for him, though in his heart he knew this victory wouldn’t make much of a difference back home; he’d remain unappreciated and on his return home, he’d only find a few teammates and friends giving him a heroes’ welcome home.

You must have guessed who I’m talking about by now. If you haven’t – it isn’t your fault. Ahmed Mujtaba has been completely ignored by the mainstream media, thus most people are still unaware of his achievements. Mujtaba is a professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter and has won many laurels for the country with an undefeated record of seven wins.

This just goes to show that instead of promoting the sport and the man who championed it, TV channels and the media want to exploit the Indo-Pak relationship in every way they can.
Photo: Twitter

Earlier this year, Mujtaba, along with his teammate Uloomi Karim, went to fight in the Underground Battle Mixed Martial Arts (UGB) championship. Mujtaba was victorious there as well.

But guess who received recognition from the mass media? The one who had an Indian opponent (Karim).

This goes to show that, instead of promoting the sport and the man who was victorious, TV channels and the media want to exploit the Indo-Pak relationship in every way that they can. Our people’s motive of interest in every India-Pakistan related sport is questionable.

In his heart, he knew this victory won’t make much of a difference back home.
Photo: One Championship

Despite being ignored, Mujtaba didn’t lose hope and kept on training for his debut in Asia’s number one MMA championship ONEFC. His opponent, Benedict Ang, was no easy prey as he, too, was undefeated. That is, till he faced Mujtaba. His win was impressive considering that his training comprised of limited resources and no international coaches – unlike his opponent.

I, along with the majority of the MMA community, was hopeful that this time Mujtaba would finally receive the attention he deserves, since he is the first Pakistani fighter who was trained in Pakistan to win on such a prestigious platform. Yet, we were all left disappointed; apart from a few newspapers, no major channel deemed it necessary to cover.

He is the first Pakistani fighter trained in Pakistan to win in such a prestigious MMA promotion.
Photo: Facebook

In a country where even the pettiest of issues become newsworthy – it’s shocking that Mujtaba’s win was not given even a quarter of prime-time or a place in the midnight news. Our desperate journalists would rather obsess over a chai wala for his looks!

According to his head coach and trainer, Ehtisham Karim, Mujtaba has approached all TV channels and their representatives to urge them to pay attention to this sport but they just don’t seem interested. Media outlets dedicate hours to cover cricket events. We have become immune to the mindless narration of cricket play by plays by people who don’t even have any experience in the sport, and frankly, no one is interested. The same media does not have place in their headlines for a real national hero.

A visibly disappointed Ehtisham Karim, in his video message, made it clear that he doesn’t expect anything from the government, as they seem engulfed in their own problems like handling corruption charges and making a fool out of the public, but he does expect the media to recognise Mujtaba’s talent. He feared that, once again, he’d have to go to the airport with only a handful of friends to welcome Mujtaba – a complete opposite to how a cricketer is welcomed back after a win. He appealed to the people to share his message as much as possible and to pressure the media to acknowledge the unsung hero.

The government comprises of age old bureaucrats who still live in the 90’s. They don’t even use social media, let alone being aware of the latest developments taking place in the world. Therefore, they cannot understand the importance of MMA, given that it’s a dynamic sport that has excluded most of the rules of traditional martial arts and taken the world by storm. Even if the concerned government officials did understand MMA, they wouldn’t be able to do much about it, since the government only focuses on Olympic sports and spends most of its sports related funding on cricket.

Mujtaba’s repeated warnings to leave the country and move elsewhere because of the lack of support he received from Pakistan should be a wakeup call for us.
Photo: Facebook

What message are we sending to our young and upcoming talent? It doesn’t matter if they partake in sports or any other field? Wouldn’t they start believing that the only way to become famous and gather respect in this country is to be born with good looks? Is there no place for talent and hard work in this country? The more dishonest and corrupt a person is, the more recognition he or she receives. We saw this happen with people like Ayyan Ali and Qandeel Baloch. What did they do to become famous?

If we don’t act now, if we don’t change the circumstances that destroy the dreams of many, we can say goodbye to any hopes we might have of achieving glory as a nation.

Mujtaba’s repetitive statements about leaving the country to move elsewhere where his efforts would actually be appreciated should be a wakeup call for all of us. We should realise that it is people like Mujtaba who make a nation rise above others and not plastic celebrities whose lives we all seem to be oh-so-interested in.

Ahsan Zafeer

Ahsan Zafeer

The author is interested in politics, social issues and sports. He has a passion for writing and believes that issues can be resolved through discussion. He tweets as @AhsanZafeer (twitter.com/AhsanZafeer)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • ilyas

    It is disheartening to know that we have such a rising star and we don’t even know about him. Everything you said is true and we should promote sports other than cricket in Pakistan or else we will keep losing youth like Ahmed Mujtaba either to other countries or to drugs, alcohol, and terrorism.Recommend

  • Hitesh Sachdev

    Whats with the beard ?? Looks like a relative of bin Laden !!Recommend

  • Thinker_94

    I second your opinion.Recommend

  • Thinker_94

    Here the point is, the inadequate attention being given to someone who has done something great for the country, whether its mujtaba or someone else media never cares about these people…situation in india still not as bad as hereRecommend

  • Thinker_94

    Thank God! doesn’t look like a relative of Modi!!Recommend

  • Azam Rehman

    hes born in wrong country,should have never left indiaRecommend

  • v

    go ask the Sikhs in your team first.Recommend

  • nadeem bhai

    Why leave pakistan if media doesn’t cover him? Is that so important?Recommend

  • abdullah

    Great job done by this son of soil, Bravo!Recommend

  • khan saab

    and condemnable tooRecommend

  • khan saab

    He is the best mma fighter of pakistanRecommend

  • khan saab

    we need to do something about it!Recommend

  • khan saab

    yes I agree appreciation is very important…Recommend

  • Hitesh Sachdev

    Yeah, thank god. Then he would be revered around the world. Imagine that for a terrorist look alike.Recommend

  • omaradnan

    Ma Sha Allah! mujtaba has done real good on an international platform this time..proud of him!Recommend

  • omaradnan

    Me tooRecommend

  • omaradnan

    irrelevantRecommend

  • omaradnan

    wats ur point dudeRecommend

  • omaradnan

    Its a tragedy that superstars like him are ignored in this countryRecommend

  • abidkhan

    No doubt!Recommend

  • abidkhan

    The media is the only one to be blamed in this situationRecommend

  • abidkhan

    Really trueRecommend

  • abidkhan

    hhahahah..what’s your problem with beard dude!Recommend

  • asgharkhan

    Keep it up boy…
    Proud of you..
    Pak Media They dont need a real hero…..Recommend

  • asgharkhan
  • asgharkhan

    Pak Media They dont need a real hero…..Recommend

  • asgharkhan

    its very crucial that media covers our heroes!Recommend

  • asgharkhan

    you are very ignorantRecommend

  • asgharkhan

    what is your point dude!Recommend

  • asgharkhan

    I agree with your last pointRecommend

  • asgharkhan

    sooner or later, if this trend continues, cricket will eat up all other sport!Recommend

  • asgharkhan

    The biggest oneRecommend

  • asgharkhan

    he is no doubt one of the rising stars of pakistani sportRecommend

  • asgharkhan

    too badRecommend

  • asgharkhan

    disheartedRecommend

  • abdullah

    pak is a land of disappointments dearRecommend

  • spl

    What I feel is the saddest part is a lack of govt involvementRecommend

  • princekarim

    I can feel for mujtabaRecommend

  • Real.$hady

    Mujtab’s “MARKHORE” style of fighting; he claims that fighters from Quetta are markhores because they are so aggressive that they want to chew up their opponents. They leave nothing to chance and give their opponents a beating of a lifetime.Recommend

  • Bina

    MMA fighters get ranked according to their performance and outcome of their fights and level of competition they faced. Keep that in mind, he did extra ordinaryRecommend

  • http://Toi.com Rishabh ranjan

    Who’s triggered it’s visible grannies……Recommend