For years, India has produced many sporting icons, who have etched their names in history. From the likes of Sachin Tendulkar to the recent numero uno in badminton, Saina Nehwal, there have been many such figures who have become the heartthrob of the nation. But the question always remained – why, in the second most populous country in the world, there have not been many prominent names when it comes to combat/contact sports. Although Vijender Singh and very few others have been successful in putting India on the map in that category, the problem still persists with the current crop of sportsmen.
One of the reasons why global organizations such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship have shied away from entering the Indian market is not due to the lack of talent, rather, the lack of interest of such sports in the country. While other countries such as the United States have witnessed the emergence of legends such as Muhammad Ali and now, Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, India still has not made an impact in the world of contact sports.
However, contrary to the popular belief, India has in fact produced wealth of talent, but with the lack of interest and proper infrastructure, it has not only been hard to make a living for these athletes, but these icons have quietly vanished into the darkness of obscurity. In this series, we look back at such forgotten heroes of Indian contact sports, who deserved due recognition and adulation, but unfortunately were not able to attract the attention in a cricket crazy nation.
It is not very often that an Indian gets to train with arguably the best training camp in the world – a training camp which boasts of training world class fighters such as Gokhan Saki and previously, Alistair Overeem. And to do so, he has to possess some remarkable talents and achievements, and Midhun Jith had all the credentials necessary to be a part of the Golden Glory camp.
Very few might’ve heard his name however, but Midhun, in a relatively short period won several accolades to put him in an elite category. Hailing from Wayanad, Kerala, Midhun took to combat sports at a very young age, and got a taste of his first gold at the national level at the age of 10! After an impeccable record, winning 18 national championships on the trot under various styles while also bagging 21 state championships consecutively, Midhun set his sights on achieving greater feats, and that came in 2011.
Midhun broke two Guinness World Records for the maximum number of martial arts kicks thrown, with a remarkable 310 kicks in just one minute and 608 kicks in three minutes! This would just be the beginning of an astounding series of events, with Midhun winning 2 International Karate Championships and 2 National Karate Championships. He would then go on to win the World Kickboxing Championship in 2013, making him the first Indian ever to achieve the trifecta of breaking the Guinness World Record, winning the International Karate Championship and the World Kickboxing Championship at the same time!
One would think that he would’ve gone on to achieve bigger and better things, but unfortunately, Midhun’s achievements have been shrugged under the rug, as he became yet another casualty in a country which adores its cricketers, but doesn’t show the same amount of appreciation and respect for the competitors of other not so well known sports.