A knockout win, in many ways

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | S. CHANDRAMOULI
Published Feb 23, 2017, 12:25 am IST
Updated Feb 23, 2017, 12:26 am IST
Pugilist Thulasi Helen on her boxing career, and her recent foray into MMA — giving her a new lease of life.
Helen inside the ring
 Helen inside the ring

A boxer from age 12, Chennai-based Thulasi Helen.E, a well-known pugilist around the country, still finds it tough to make a financially stable livelihood — which  pushed her to take a diversion into a career of fitness rather than following her passion.

Surprisingly, just a couple of months earlier, she had taken a brave decision to put up a fight by participating in the Super Fight League, an international mixed martial art tournament, held at New Delhi from January 20 to February 25.

 

Her boxing career took off ever since she won her first gold medal at the All India YMCA boxing in the year 2000, when she was just 13. From then on, there was no looking back and she followed her heart for almost a decade during which she won more than 30 medals.

Speaking to DC, she says, “Due to unfavourable circumstances that prevailed for a few years in the TN Boxing arena, many boxers opted for alternative careers — unlike a very few like me who dreamt of nothing beyond the boxing ring. As I fled from home at the age of 12 to pursue boxing, no one supported me and I took petty jobs like working in a petrol bunk, pizza delivery, etc., to fulfill my daily needs. Six years back, I took a fitness trainer course in Golden Gym University and started a new life as a freelance gym trainer for leading gyms in and around Chennai. My financial position became stable and I could instruct others, which inculcated soft skills into me. I was into that career till that day when I came to know about SFL and MMA through my colleagues.”

She also shares about her tryst with mixed martial arts — “My interest in boxing resumed when I looked for new prospects to represent India. So, I went to Bengaluru, where I surprisingly met Mr. Sathya, who was my super senior and he trained me in MMA from then on. This mixed martial art tournament is not a cakewalk, but I managed to win the silver in a recent amateur event held at Delhi! Now I am getting into the pro category, which demands intense workouts and vigilance. Unlike boxing, the punches and kicks will be very informal as fighters come from various countries trained in different art forms like taekwondo, kung fu, karate, muay-thai and many more. Bloodshed could be witnessed in most of the tournaments as every fighter aims for a knock out win!  Even though I am being trained in kick boxing and judo grabbing, competing with other fighters will be a challenge that I am ready to face with no anticipation of success.”
Brushing aside the myth of becoming manly in physique, she says that it is mandatory for women to at least know basic self-defence. “In today’s world, women are prone to lot of threats, attack on railway station and kidnapping, etc. If a girl practices MMA, the level of confidence and intelligence would be very high in dealing with things while she is put in such a situation,” she elaborates.

Helen is now keenly looking out for sponsors for her training assistance, as she fears that she might lose her fitness trainer job due to the unprecedented break of a few months. “Unlike other fields where there is a vertical growth and promotion, sports do not have a system to support players, because of which parents restrict their kids. I would be proud to represent our state in future tournaments for which government bodies like Sports Development Authority of India should extend support for budding talents.”

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