Everyone has a scholarly opinion these days about what Pakistan “is not.” There are hardly any constructive discussion about what this country actually “is”. In every gesture, opinion and argument; the element of negativity is heavier on the scale. These casual-day discussions somehow never emanate positivity and never incite debates about so much good that this country has to offer.
The recent glorious victory of Mujtaba Ahmed in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) bout in Singapore has completely been ignored by the mainstream media and hence, the general public. Having roots in Balochistan, Mujtaba Ahmed’s passion for the ring brought him to Islamabad in 2010 where he started training under the critically acclaimed MMA guru Ehtisham Karim Shaheen.
Immediately recognizing the raw potential of Mujtaba, Karim embraced this young blood at Fight Fortress, a locally run MMA club in Islamabad. Under the globally renowned mentors, Mujtaba first entered the ring in 2013 with a victory in Lahore. This was the flight he took for his glorious career and in the coming years he won Gold, Silver and Bronze in Pakistan. With gaining strength and technique, Mujtaba first submitted his opponent in Thailand followed by – metaphorically – choking his opponent in Phillipines in 2016 at the World Series of Fighting (WSOF). He is the first professional MMA fighter from Pakistan having a seven-win streak in professional bouts that made him known as, “Wolverine” in the ring.
Despite the fact that all these achievements went unrecognized and unappreciated by his country, he took a greater challenge on November 11, 2016 where he faced Singapore’s Benedict Ang at One Championship in Singapore. Ang having an undefeated career, last year defeated our own Waqar Umar from Lahore. This history of the Singaporean fighter has created a lot of hype in the rest of the world apart from Pakistanis whose sheer ignorance didn’t even see-off their star on his journey for one of the biggest titles in the world. Mujtaba came back with another feather in his crown but was merely greeted by a few of his gym fellows as a hero.
In one of the social media appearances after facing sheer disappointment from the country, the team says, “…We do not expect anything from the Government, but at least appreciation of the fact that we are fighting for this country. Winning is our job and we are doing it. The country’s job is to appreciate only and it’s not even doing that…”
It’s not that Mujtaba Ahmed is the first person to have faced this dilemma on his home ground. There are many names to be quoted who despite their financial crisis embraced the passion for sports and won prestigious titles for the country. But they all met the same fate: gone, unknown!
Earlier this year, Mujtaba along with his mentor went for another championship at Underground Battle (UGB). Mujtaba Ahmed won the fight but guess who was highlighted? The one who had an Indian opponent – Karim. Our media is so obsessed with negativity that despite highlighting a rising star, a pure spirit; it went for that part where it could tweak and twist the story while inciting inherent hatred for our neighboring country. In a country where the minutest of news hammers our ears and brains for hours, it is shocking to see that this event went un-noticed by our media.
I wonder what message are we leaving for our youngsters and raw talent willing to become stars? Is our media not killing their dreams? They will never start believing in themselves seeing that fame and glory in this country always comes from good looks and riches. It’s not going to take very long for Mujtaba Ahmed to be taken by the west as a lot of corporate entities are interested in this young star. Nonetheless, it’s not a science for Mujtaba to gauge the value of western industry against that of the sheer mediocrity of Pakistan. In the future if we don’t see Mujtaba wearing a Pakistani flag anymore, we would only have ourselves to blame. At least he will then know what he is fighting for!