Her platter is full and her basket is filled with the choicest of freshly deep-fried boras (pakoras), shingju and other items as she serves several customers every day by the street in Moirang, Manipur. But Jojo Rajkumari, the first female MMA fighter from Manipur, is dreaming of going global and becoming a world champion to make her country proud.
Coming from a humble background, 23-year-old Jojo has been carrying out various small businesses, including selling street food as her means of livelihood, as she struggles to achieve her goals of bringing more laurels to her state and the country. So far, Jojo has secured two wins in state-level MMA events.
“I will try to achieve more medals within the country in MMA female category. But I am aiming to become champion in ‘One Championship’ tournament so that the world could recognise Manipur has such fighter who can compete in the international arena," proud Jojo said, speaking on the sidelines of a felicitation programme.
A function to felicitate Mixed Martial Art fighter Jojo was organised by the 13 Dogra Regiment at Brilliance School, Malom, Imphal on Thursday. During the function, it was announced that Jojo will be provided free ration.
"In a bid to promote Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in Manipur for women fighters, 13 Dogra Regiment will provide free ration to first female MMA fighter Jojo Rajkumari till the commanding officer of the regiment is posted in Manipur," said Commanding Officer Abhinav Kulshrestha, at the felicitation function.
Abhinav also said he along with the regiment will extend necessary assistance to the young female fighter in order to achieve her goals not only at the national level but also in the international arena.
"As a fighter needs proper diet and gears while competing in big arenas and after seeing the potential in Jojo the necessary assistance was given to her," the Commanding Officer added.
Overwhelmed by the support shown to her, Jojo expressed her gratitude to 13 Dogra regiment, The Guardian Group and Jojo Support group for giving necessary assistance in order to achieve her goals of becoming a champion of a world event one day.
How did Jojo become MMA fighter
Jojo Rajkumari started out as a kickboxer at a young age. She took part in several states and national events and had achieved 12 medals, including gold and silver, in kickboxing.
But it was in October 2017 that MMA instructor Nandeibam Frank Mangang spotted Jojo in a Facebook video where she demonstrated some of her kicks, punches and moves. The next day, he contacted her and introduced her to MMA, Frank said, speaking exclusively to the Imphal Free Press.
The instructor said as she did not have any knowledge of MMA, he sent a video clip of an MMA. After watching it, there was no looking back. Jojo soon became an MMA fighter. From the beginning of 2018, Frank trained her to compete in Manipur Fight League 2018 for the first time as MMA fighter.
Frank runs the Kanglei Mixed Martial arts Club located at Singjamei Chingamakha, Imphal West. To promote MMA in Manipur, Frank told the IFP that he sold his property as during the initial period no one was willing to come forward with financial assistance.
Saying, “Players should not be kept within boundaries but they need to be free in order to achieve their goals,” Frank appreciated the 13 Dogra Regiment and others for supporting MMA and Jojo in the effort to push forward Manipuri fighters in the global MMA cage.
During the function, the 13 Dogra Regiment also handed over some MMA gears for Jojo to use in furthering her career.