For African Games MMA gold medallist Sookhoo Bhirsing (Yudish): “Words can’t describe the feeling. To stand up on the highest podium listening to our national anthem is more than a dream. And it occurred on the 56th Anniversary of our National Independence.”

Hailing from Paillotte, Quatre Bornes in Mauritius, the 31-year-old came into the competition with an MMA record of 1-0-0, but an extensive background in core martial arts. Commencing in Japanese jujitsu in 2009 to attain a black belt before progressing to Brazilian jiu jitsu in 2017 to reach purple belt, Yudish’s wrestling certainly gave him the edge on the African platform.

Competing at flyweight (56,7 kg / 125 lbs), the champion started training in MMA at AJT club, where training is easily accessible, as well as more generally on the East African island: “MMA is the future and in high demand in Mauritius. Our coach allows us to practice other combat sports also to improve our game.”

Bhirsing’s biggest technical challenge, coming from a jiu jitsu background is “to develop my stand-up game so I’m more confident when I’m competing and to be able to defend myself properly.”

An advantage for the champion is that sport is his life. Outside of training and competing, he works as a Physical Education teacher at a secondary school and as a coach at Warriors Combat Sport Asso.

Yet practical obstacles still arose to participating in the African Games: “We did not have sufficient time to conduct proper preparation so the doubt was a bit higher than usual. Finances were an issue also, but with the help of our federation, GAMMA Mauritius – MBJJF we managed to get to Ghana on time.”

However, the stress was well worth it: “The experience was awesome. We created history by being the first Mauritians to compete in the African Games representing BJJ in an MMA tournament. It was an everlasting experience. It will always remain in my heart.”

Moving forwards, Bhirsing’s ultimate goals and motivation in MMA are the improvement both of his own game and of the sport as whole, looking to: ”compete as much as I can; to improve my game as a martial artist; to participate with good sportsmanship; and help the federation in the development good sports practice.”

Immediately on the agenda is: “Training. Improving my weaknesses, my stand-up game and preparing for my next competition.”

Thus, says the champion, “The journey continues…Oss!”

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